Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era

Overview

In words that are as clean and precise as his haunting, starkly beautiful photographs, the author recreates the life and times of the Western Homestead Era, that period beginning around 1885 when the prairie lands lying westward from the longitude of the western Dakotas became available to pioneering farmers. Some 70 black-and-white duotone photographs, with detailed captions, record the bleak landscapes and the abandoned farms, outbuildings, farm implements, and hand tools that are mute testimonies to the failed...
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Overview

In words that are as clean and precise as his haunting, starkly beautiful photographs, the author recreates the life and times of the Western Homestead Era, that period beginning around 1885 when the prairie lands lying westward from the longitude of the western Dakotas became available to pioneering farmers. Some 70 black-and-white duotone photographs, with detailed captions, record the bleak landscapes and the abandoned farms, outbuildings, farm implements, and hand tools that are mute testimonies to the failed hopes of several million families who settled on these arid and semi-arid lands.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Campbell (anthropologist U. of New Mexico) offers four essays and 70 of his own artistic photographs to document failed attempts to homestead the shortgrass prairie<-->dominated by the blue grama variety of buffalo grass<-->that comprises the southwesternmost reach of the Great Plains in New Mexico and Colorado. He does not provide an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"The photos of homestead landscapes on these pages—structures, implements, fields, haystacks—speak of the work, hopes, and drought-battered lives of thousands of families."—Utah Historial Quartery

"Campbell gives us glimpses into real western history that is just beyond the fence line north of the highway or just three miles down a dusty back road, and he brings it to life so that we may all participate."—The Chronicles of Oklahoma

"A trained archaeologist and a gifted photographer, Campbell masterfully observes the materials the homesteaders left behind."—New Mexico Historical Review

"The book is a 'two thumbs up' and should have a place on your American history reference shelf."—North Dakota History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806199658
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Martin Campbell is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, and Research Professor and Research Curator of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, at the University of New Mexico. In addition to his academic writing, he is the author of two other photographic works, Few and Far Between: Moments in the North American Desert and The Prairie Schoolhouse.

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