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Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (2017)

door Caroline Fraser

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9156018,725 (4.07)89
Millions of readers of the 'Little House' books believe they know Laura Ingalls Wilder - the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains as her family chased their American dream. But the true story of her life has never been fully told. Drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries and public records, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder's biography, uncovering the grown-up story behind the best-loved childhood epic of pioneer life. Set against nearly a century of unimaginable change, from the Homestead Act and the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Wilder's life was full of drama and adversity. Settling on the frontier amid land-rush speculation, her family endured Biblical tribulations of locusts and drought, poverty and want, before she left at the age of eighteen to marry Almanzo. This is where the books end, but there is so much more to tell; deep in debt after a series of personal tragedies, Laura and Almanzo uprooted themselves once again, crisscrossing the country, taking menial jobs to support the family. In middle age, she began writing a farm advice column, prodded by her journalist daughter Rose. And at the age of sixty, fearing the loss of almost everything in the Depression, she turned to children's books, recasting her extraordinarily difficult childhood as a triumphal vision of homesteading - achieving fame and fortune in the process. Laura Ingalls Wilder's life is one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches stories in American letters. Offering fresh insight and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman who defined the American pioneer character, and whose artful blend of fact and fiction grips us to this day.… (meer)
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1-5 van 62 worden getoond (volgende | toon alle)
This is a knock-your-socks-off biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane. Fraser not only traces their real lives, she looks at pioneering in general and the Ingalls family in particular through the lens of poverty, ecological disaster, and government propaganda. Illuminating, fascinating, hard to put down -- or at least, the first half of the book is. Then she moves on to the fraught topics of Laura and Rose's relationship, publishing history and politics -- all of which are hard to pin down, hazy about fact/fiction and generally unpleasant. I found this part illuminating, but also disappointing -- in the sense that I am disappointed to learn more about the real people, given how thoroughly I enjoyed their fictional selves. Part of the lesson of the book, I suppose, and shakes up my understanding of American history and government between the world wars. Definitely a book that challenges the romantic ideal of the pioneer and of the self-made farmer in the American West. I think it presents a fair biography of flawed human beings as well. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
Hosted by Carole, March book. Detail dense, very well written, places LI Wilder in context to family, environment and historical times. We all grew up with Little House books and this was an eye-opener. ( )
  Bibliofemmes | Apr 6, 2022 |
Now I know a lot more about the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder than if I had just read her books. The historical background, and details of the family's daily life and relationships Showed thorough research.
Rose Wilder Lane was too prominent for a book about her mother. I prefer more about Laura and leaving out three quarters of the Rose stuff. ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
Chock-full of information, some new to me and some not so much (particularly the general history of the times), this book will appeal to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who may be shocked by some of the history behind the book series. (There is also quite a lot of information about LIW's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane - she was certainly a character!) ( )
  bookwyrmqueen | Oct 25, 2021 |
Fascinating look at Laura Ingalls Wilder's life and work. The information on her earlier life covered by her fiction is relatively thin but Fraser patches in a lot of gaps and clarifies the reality of what's covered in the novels and what Wilder chose to conceal. Small-time farming never worked out for either the Ingalls or Wilder families. All her life, Wilder relied on outside income to make a go of farming.

The period of her adulthood is much richer territory, especially her relationship with her daughter and editor, Rose Wilder Lane. Fraser rejects (based on drafts and manuscripts) the idea that Lane was effectively a ghostwriter--she polished up her mother's work, and some changes were significant, but the basis of the work was Wilder's. Lane comes off poorly in multiple respects, especially as she got older and became increasingly political--as was sometimes reflected in her edits. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
1-5 van 62 worden getoond (volgende | toon alle)
Placing the Ingalls family’s homesteading mishaps in a bigger picture of national enterprise is one of many demonstrations of Fraser’s admirable commitment to presenting her research in a broader historical context. But sometimes this causes the literary gears to grind. ... And yet there is far more to admire than to criticize in Fraser’s determination to provide everything needed for a responsible and thorough history of Wilder’s life and legacy.
 
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The prairies burning form some of the most beautiful scenes that are to be witnessed in this country.
--George Catlin
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In memory of my mother, Ruth Fraser, and my grandmother, Ruth Webb
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"Once upon a time...a little girl lived in the Big Woods": the opening of the Little House series has the cadence of a fairy tale.
Introduction: On a spring day in April of 1924, Laura Ingalls Wilder, a fifty-seven-year-old farm wife in the Missouri Ozarks, received a telegram from South Dakota.
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Millions of readers of the 'Little House' books believe they know Laura Ingalls Wilder - the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains as her family chased their American dream. But the true story of her life has never been fully told. Drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries and public records, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder's biography, uncovering the grown-up story behind the best-loved childhood epic of pioneer life. Set against nearly a century of unimaginable change, from the Homestead Act and the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Wilder's life was full of drama and adversity. Settling on the frontier amid land-rush speculation, her family endured Biblical tribulations of locusts and drought, poverty and want, before she left at the age of eighteen to marry Almanzo. This is where the books end, but there is so much more to tell; deep in debt after a series of personal tragedies, Laura and Almanzo uprooted themselves once again, crisscrossing the country, taking menial jobs to support the family. In middle age, she began writing a farm advice column, prodded by her journalist daughter Rose. And at the age of sixty, fearing the loss of almost everything in the Depression, she turned to children's books, recasting her extraordinarily difficult childhood as a triumphal vision of homesteading - achieving fame and fortune in the process. Laura Ingalls Wilder's life is one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches stories in American letters. Offering fresh insight and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman who defined the American pioneer character, and whose artful blend of fact and fiction grips us to this day.

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