Prairie Fires

Prairie Fires

The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Book - 2017
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Baker & Taylor
A comprehensive historical portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder draws on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries and official records to fill in the gaps in Wilder's official story, sharing lesser-known details about her pioneer experiences while challenging popular misconceptions about how her books were ghostwritten.

McMillan Palgrave

The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books

One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year

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 Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House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

& Taylor

A comprehensive historical portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder draws on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and official records to fill in the gaps in Wilder's official story, sharing details about her pioneer experiences.

Publisher: New York, NY : Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781627792769
Branch Call Number: 813.52 Wilde-F
Characteristics: xii, 625 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm


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Dec 28, 2017

As a lifetime fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, I am always interested in seeing material that takes a fresh look at Laura, the person, the personal stories that made her way into her books, and the influence of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. This was a riveting read, placing Laura and her extended family in the context of the broader history happening around them, whether it be regionally, elsewhere in America, or far further afield; and how national events impacted individual lives. Similar in various ways to "Libertarians on the Prairie" by Christine Woodside, which explores the complex and often combative relationship between Laura and her daughter Rose and speculates just how dominant a role Rose had in the creation of the stories that ended up in Laura's books, yet I found this work to be much richer. It was fascinating to read about the various stages of the settlement of the west overlaid over what we know about the Ingalls and Wilder family experiences. Equally engrossing is seeing how events colored Laura's and Rose's personalities so deeply, leading to deeply ingrained character traits and reactive psychological behaviors that seemed to be based in long-ago incidents never forgotten or satisfactorily dealt with on an emotional level. In particular, the relationship between these two women remains an intriguing tangle, with Rose emerging in a particularly unflattering light. You will not look at Laura and her stories in quite the same way again.

Dec 02, 2017

On NYT Ten Best Books of 2017 list.


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Dec 20, 2017

It is beyond all human power to tell all the facts....Facts are infinite in number. The truth is a meaning underlying them; you tell the truth by selecting the facts which illustrate it.

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