Great Plains by Ian Frazier
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Reviewed by Jessica Boland
Jessica Boland works at Lonely Planet in rights and permissions.
Frazier is best known as a staff writer at The New Yorker, and as the author of the mock legal complaint Coyote v Acme, wherein Wile E. Coyote sues the manufacturer of various rocket-propelled devices!
In 1982, Ian Frazier left New York bound for a log cabin in Montana, with the aim of “trying to write a novel about high school”. The high school novel never eventuated, but instead Frazier spent many summers traversing the Great Plains collecting materials, experiences and anecdotes, and many winters completing detailed library research. The result would be Great Plains.
Thirteen US states fall partly within the Great Plains, from Texas in the south to Montana and North Dakota in the north. The Great Plains cover a land area of over 1.3 million square miles.
The Great Plains have also been known as the Great Desert, the Dust Bowl, and Vanishing Rural America. These alternate monikers confirm the general opinion of the Great Plains as being the vast empty prairie land separating the populous and happenin’ East and West Coasts of the USA.
In Great Plains, Frazier combines first-person narrative with in-depth research and reporting of historical events. The jumping back and forth from various points in history to the time of Frazier’s travels could have been confusing, but Frazier seamlessly manages the constant to and fro.
This book is especially worth reading if you have an interest in Native American history. There are some fascinating insights into the lives of incredibly important Native Americans like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
As a traveller who has spent a good amount of time on the West and East Coasts of the USA, but has not explored inland USA, Great Plains was an excellent and entertaining education in the history of the huge expanse of plains that I have flown over many times. As Frazier comments: “Most travellers who see the plains do it from thirty thousand feet”.
Frazier is passionate about the history and landscape of the Great Plains, and Great Plains is his ardent tribute to this vast prairie land that has played such a significant role in American history.Publishers: Please send titles to be considered for review to:
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