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

von Caroline Fraser

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
8665819,515 (4.05)88
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 Drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries and public records, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder's biography, uncovering the grown-up story behind the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.… (mehr)
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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 |
I read this, strangely, for a work project about pioneer legacy. Growing up, like many young readers, I loved the Little House books, reading them over and over, but the romanticism certainly wore off as I became an adult. They're not books that can or should be read without complications, and Fraser does a wonderful job of setting historical context, filling in Native history and fleshing out the larger political climate and motivations of the U.S. government. She goes off on a few too many tangents and makes some pretty specious connections, but my biggest quibble is her strange (and pretty ungenerous) attempts at psychoanalyzing her subjects - particularly Rose, who takes up quite a big of space in an already lengthy book. She's wildly speculative here, in a work that's otherwise thoroughly researched, so I admit to skimming those bits. Worth the read, though. ( )
  CarrieT | Feb 17, 2021 |
This is really a fascinating book. It looks at Wilder and her daughter and their books in the context of US history, Indian policy, geography, climate change, economic policy, cultural changes...highly recommended! ( )
  giovannaz63 | Jan 18, 2021 |
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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