A Sense of Place: Listening to Americans

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David Lamb is a remarkable reporter and story teller. His passion is the people of America - their histories, their lives, the dramas that absorb them. In his hands, these people become figures in a coherent, compelling frieze of America in the late twentieth century. In David Lamb's America, people greet each new day with a kind of gritty realism, steadfastly optimistic in the face of disappointments, large and small. This is an original and colorful look at ordinary Americans whose lives are vastly different ...
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Overview

David Lamb is a remarkable reporter and story teller. His passion is the people of America - their histories, their lives, the dramas that absorb them. In his hands, these people become figures in a coherent, compelling frieze of America in the late twentieth century. In David Lamb's America, people greet each new day with a kind of gritty realism, steadfastly optimistic in the face of disappointments, large and small. This is an original and colorful look at ordinary Americans whose lives are vastly different from those of their urban counterparts. They are rendered extraordinary by David Lamb's stunning reportorial gifts. A Sense of Place is about cowboy poets, hobos, farmers, and ranchers struggling on the land they adore. It's about small towns that have lost many of their children to the cities but doggedly hang on. With David Lamb as our guide, we journey to isolated reaches of Idaho, North Dakota, and Montana, where the nearest neighbor can be fifty miles away and the inhabitants speak unabashedly about their love of a threatened way of life. In the eyes of the men and women he meets as he travels the length and breadth of that neglected portion of the country he calls "the empty quarter," we remain a young nation, though we are no longer youthful. Our exuberance, he finds, has been tempered by caution. In countless conversations from Maine to Alaska, Americans speak of a bittersweet longing for the past, as though no one knows quite what to make of the social and economic upheavals that have swept across the land. Yet no one David Lamb encounters talks of wanting to turn back the clock. They talk about community and holding on to all that is good and their search for what one New England mill worker calls "the comfort zone" of life. In his introduction, David Lamb states his intentions clearly. "My intent," he says, "is not to dwell on political issues or to recite a litany of national problems. Rather, I look on A Sense of Place as a deliberately selec
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Many authors claim to write about the ``real'' (i.e., nonurban) America, but few have done so as perceptively as Los Angeles Times correspondent Lamb ( The Africans , LJ 3/1/83; The Arabs, LJ 3/15/87; Stolen Season , LJ 2/15/91) in his latest work. Written over the last 20 years, the pieces collected here profile Americans living in places we often do not hear about, like Montana, Maine, Alaska, and West Virginia. Without sentimentalizing his subjects, Lamb effectively conveys their pride, self-sufficiency, and reverence for personal freedom as passed down since pioneer days. These are everyday values, lived out on small farms and big ranches, in a factory town in Maine as well as in Britt, Iowa, the hobo capital of the world. For all popular collections.-- Pamela R. Daubenspeck, Warren-Trumbell Cty. P.L., Warren, Ohio
Lindsay Throm
What does it mean to be American? In this thought-provoking portrait, Lamb uses American history and sketches of contemporary Americans to show what happens to the pioneer spirit when the last frontier has been settled. He introduces us to a selection of people representative of the diversity of our population, and despite the criticism about our collective short memory, he shows Americans to be a markedly introspective people. Without denying the problems that plague the nation, Lamb demonstrates that the pessimistic attitude assumed to be current is not reflected in reality as he found it in his travels; he takes the sanguinity he found as an expression of a uniquely American idealism. "A Sense of Place" offers a moving and enlightening perspective on America and provides much-needed balance to the current obsession with what is wrong with the country. It merits inclusion in every collection of U.S. history; in fact, think of it as required reading for every student of American history and culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812921595
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/19/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 290

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
The Empty Quarter 9
Lewis and Clark Revisited 11
Big Sky, Big Dreams 31
The Last Frontier 51
Buffalo Commons 67
Greyhound Romance 80
The Good Life 91
The World's Best Job 93
The Gates of Eden 107
Fifteen Minutes 120
Without Fear or Favor 140
Nowhere to Run 152
A Vanishing World 161
Home on the Range 163
Over the Rainbow 186
King Coal 205
The Road Less Traveled 213
Lessons of History 227
The Last of the Nez Perce 229
Fourteen Forgotten Men 241
Twilight of the Aleuts 253
Putting People First 263
Joker in the Deck 275
Acknowledgments 289
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