Published in 1936, this novel presents in epic scope the conflicts in the settling of the American Southwest. Set in New Mexico in the late 19th century, The Sea of Grass concerns the often violent clashes between the pioneering ranchers, whose cattle range freely through the vast sea of grass, and the farmers, or "nesters," who build fences and turn the sod. Against this background is set the triangle of rancher Colonel Jim Brewton, his unstable Eastern wife Lutie, and the ambitious Brice Chamberlain. Richter casts the story in Homeric terms, with the children caught up in the conflicts of their parents.
Although a family story about 19th Century New Mexico ranchers, it is also a record of environmental conflict between ranchers and farmers and how each group wanted to use the land.