Family tells the story of Ian Frazier's family in America from the early colonial days to the present. Using letters and other family documents, he reconstructs two hundred years of middle class life, visiting small towns his ancestors lived in, reading books they read, and discovering the larger forces of history that affected them.

Frazier's first book since his bestselling Great Plains tells...

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Family tells the story of Ian Frazier's family in America from the early colonial days to the present. Using letters and other family documents, he reconstructs two hundred years of middle class life, visiting small towns his ancestors lived in, reading books they read, and discovering the larger forces of history that affected them.

Frazier's first book since his bestselling Great Plains tells the story of his family in America, from the early colonial days to the present. Using letters and other family documents, he reconstructs 200 years of middle-class life; visiting small towns where his ancestors lived, he discovers the larger forces of history that affected them.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
An essay on the American family, an institution whose inherent flaws Frazier explores with an unblinking eye.
Library Journal
Frazier, author of the best-selling Great Plains Farrar, 1989, illuminates the recent history of this country by crisscrossing the nation to track down the names and stories of relatives as far back as his great-grandparents. Though at first the past seems as orderly as the listing of such simple details as births, marriages, and occupations, we soon move past now-peaceful graveyards to the roiled accounts of what real life was like for the people who joined the westward migration, fought in the Civil War, prospered in the oil boom, and suffered the untoward effects of progress. By weaving in his own circumstances as a young lad growing up heir to hardworking, pious traditions, Frazier converts what could have been merely a hearty retelling of popular history into a searching tale of parallels that solder together 130 years like links in the chain of life. This entrancing saga will resonate powerfully for readers reaching their middle years as the 20th century ends. Larger libraries may want multiple copies.-Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress
Frazier (Great Plains, 1987) spent five years sifting through papers handed down in his family for generations and researching the people and places of his ancestry to write an unusual book that melds history, genealogy, and autobiography. Frazier's awesome efforts to know as much as possible will inspire others to examine what they know about the facts and myths in their own family history. His drive to explore the details of his own identity, and his considerable talents for research and clear writing, are shaped by some all-important talents, in particular, his sense for what details of the Frazier family history and experiences speak to those outside his own circle (a tricky task), and his sense of mission--one that is beyond personal aggrandizement. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Brad Hooper
From the author of the widely applauded "Great Plains" (1987), about a 24,000-mile van trip across the Midwest, comes another good book--but inconsistently so. Frazier writes about his family's past, and although some parts are fascinating, others are rather tedious. Readers will envy Frazier's extensive knowledge of his family history and his access to so much extant documentary evidence. He's done his research well, and he brings into his account of his family's ups and downs a substantial amount of background information on social, economic, and domestic history from colonial times to the present. We meet his progenitors on a personal level, hearing about how they grew up, courted, made a living, and died and about their individual achievements and disappointments. At times the narrative sweeps along with the drive and fluidity of fiction, but at other times, it descends into a mere recitation of facts that only family members would care about. Still, this is an effective illustration of the richness of history on the level of ordinary people who are neither kings nor presidents, and given the popularity of the author's previous book and his high profile as a regular contributor to the "New Yorker", expect demand.
From the Publisher
"[Frazier] is a writer of grace and charm."—The Washington Post Book World

"It is a stunning book, written in sentences and paragraphs concealing emotional depth charges that explode across the gap from page to reader."—Geoffrey Stokes, The Boston Sunday Globe

"Frazier takes the ordinary and clothes it with a sweetness that creates a special humanness for each family member."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Mr. Frazier, in this remarkable history of an unremarkable family, plays both roles, the gossip and the pedant, balances skillfully, then adds his own insights as a loyal family member."—David Willis McCullough, The New York Times Book Review

"A remarkable demonstration of Frazier's ability to write with rare, pure love and to make his feelings meaningful to casual passersby—his readers."—A Time magazine Best Book of 1994

"The most unusual, compelling, and warmly received book of the season."—New York magazine

"[Frazier is] a writer of uncommon grace and subtlety."—Chicago Tribune

"Family is a keeper—an oddball classic that somehow manages to lodge itself squarely in the American grain."—Malcolm Jones Jr., Newsweek

"Family grows from a look at one small, close-knit group of people into an appreciation of this whole country."—Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times

"A rich and ennobling book, a transcendent affirmation of individual and communal purpose."—Tom De Haven, Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466828872
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/9/2002
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 386
  • Sales rank: 762,989
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Ian Frazier lives in Montclair, New Jersey. His previous books include On the Rez, Coyote V. Acme, and the national bestseller Great Plains.

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