Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Caroline Fraser
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Caroline Fraser

Paperback

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Overview

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 Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House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.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250182487
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 76,007
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Caroline Fraser is the editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and the author of Rewilding the World and God’s Perfect Child. Her writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and the London Review of Books, among other publications. She lives in New Mexico.

Table of Contents

A Note on Quotations xiii
Map . xiv

Introduction . 1
On the Frontier 9

Part I: The Pioneer
1. Maiden Rock . 27
2. Indian Summers . 44
3. Crying Hard Times . 66
4. God Hates a Coward 93
5. Don’t Leave the Farm, Boys . 133

Part II: The Exile
6. A World Made . 179
7. As a Farm ­Woman Thinks 220
8. The Absent Ones 264
9. Pioneer Girl . 302

Part III: The Dream
10. A Ruined Country 327
11. Dusty Old Dust . 370
12. We Are All ­Here 398
13. Sunshine and Shadow . 441
14. ­There Is Gold in the Farm 486

Epilogue 509
Notes 517
Acknowledgments . 603
Index . 609

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