Prairie Fires

January 14, 2020 - Comment

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZEWINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDWINNER OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE HEARTLAND PRIZE FOR NON-FICTIONONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW’S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
WINNER OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE HEARTLAND PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW’S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year

The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser―the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series―masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder’s tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.

The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children’s books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading―and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.

Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day.

Comments

Anonymous says:

Shame on Caroline Fraser for Destroying An American Icon I have no argument with Fraser’s research skills and that is why I gave her two stars rather than one. However, I find huge fault with the very premise of her research. How convenient for her to assail the Ingalls’ family for their lack of “politically correct” sensibilities when it was our greatest American President, Abraham Lincoln who urged American settlers to go West with the Homestead Act. This book inspired the American Library Association to strip the name “Laura Ingalls…

Anonymous says:

Rescuing Laura Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books tell a story that is both true and misleading, the product of a strange and tortured collaboration between Laura and her daughter Rose. Told in full, it would have been a tale full of misery, mistakes and tragedy, relieved by stoic endurance and loyalty. It wouldn’t have been published. Wilder struggled to turn her family’s pioneer story into the inspiring, heart-warming, heroic tale that fills the Little House books. Caroline Fraser adds context beyond the…

Anonymous says:

Too much detail, dry writing style I have read through other “negative” reviews of the book, to see what it was that people disliked about it. Most I noticed, or at least the ones I read, seemed to feel that the author was too politically motivated, spent too much time on Rose, attacked Laura’s politics, contained too much history, and basically was too hard on Pa. I guess I differ from many readers in that I’m not a big Laura fan per se. I read all the Little House books in grade school, and I did over the years read more here…

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