“Richard Manning has written a beautiful literary memoir with the clear-eyed assessment of a journalist. He doesn't spare himself or his family as he examines the American obsession with work, faith, and family, and the way we love and resent them with equal ardor.” Carolyn Briggs, author of Higher Ground: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost
“Richard Manning is the West's greatest journalist. Read this book, and then everything else he has written, and everything he ever will write.” Rick Bass, author of Colter, Why I Came West, and The Wild Marsh
“Richard Manning's work has always been something special, distinguished by its intense passion and its penetrating insights. Whenever we encounter a writer with those qualities, we have to ask what gave birth to them. It Runs in the Family answers that question. This is a remarkable book, not only an authentically American memoir but a diagnosis of our larger national condition.” George Black, author of Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone
“As a newsman, Dick Manning set a standard in the West for brave, hard-hitting reporting about the big environmental issues that pit money against the land; and he always spoke for the land, for which the West should be thankful. Now he has produced a sometimes charming, often irascible memoir of family, religion, and journalism that is not for fans of gentle nostalgia. If you like the real stuff, though, with the muscle showing and the details enumerated in the way a fine journalist does it, give It Runs in the Family a try.” John N. Maclean, author of The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder and the Agony of Engine 57
“Richard Manning is the most significant social critic in the northern Rockies and short-grass plains. It Runs in the Family tells the blue-collar story of his family, and how he progressed from there to here. It's fearless and incisive while cutting through a lot of nonsense. We're fortunate to have Dick Manning as he continues his demands for fairness while casting light on our future.” William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky
“In the first decade of this century, when America's so-called "prayer president" was leading us into oil wars that produced no oil and free markets that resulted in financial meltdown, Amory Lovins nailed the ruling psychosis in eight words: "In God we trust. Everyone else, bring data." In It Runs in the Family Richard Manning goes a step further. In the nation-state's God he does not trust. And with incisive intelligence and shattering, experience-based data, he tells us why, then reveals what he, as a pagan, a brilliant skeptic, and a fierce lover of country, does trust. The result is one of the finest diagnostic memoirs of our time.” David James Duncan, author of The River Why and The Brothers K
A journalist's memoir of how he escaped the Christian fundamentalism that shaped, and distorted, both his and his parents' lives. Manning (Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape, 2009, etc.) grew up on a farm in Michigan, the son of a working-class man with "a work ethic so deeply ingrained, it was not an ethic any more than breathing was." His Christian fundamentalist mother "saved" his father, and the pair attempted to raise their children as Baptists. But as a teenager, Manning's faith quickly "dissolved under logic." A scholarship to the University of Michigan freed him from his parents' fundamentalism. Ravenous for knowledge and "the sweep of big ideas," Manning studied political science and philosophy. Yet it was folk music that made him realize that what the common person had to say was perhaps even more important. Mesmerized by the populism of Bob Dylan, Manning pursued journalism, which he took up after he left Michigan without a degree. He started by covering "cops and courts" for the Alpena News in Michigan, then moved on to the Post Register in Idaho, where he began covering political news. A corporate buyout impelled Manning to seek work at the Missoulian in Montana, where he wrote a series of articles condemning the logging industry that caused him to lose his job. In the meantime, the fundamentalist parents with whom he had little contact slowly receded into "an increasingly eccentric world of their own." His terminally ill mother put her fate in God's hands and died a horrific death while his father became a lunatic vagabond whom Manning tracked to the jungles of Panama. The story is as compelling as the parallels the author draws between it and the rise of Christian fundamentalism and right-wing politics in America. However, Manning also tends to intellectualize and shies away from probing the interpersonal dynamics of his family too deeply. Intriguing, but at times dry and not entirely satisfying.