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Great Plains by Ian Frazier
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Great Plains

by Ian Frazier

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Having recently completed "Bad Lands" by Jonathan Raban, I found it impossible not to constantly compare the two works. Raban's work is much more focused on a particular time period, where Frazier seems to move (quite seamlessly) from Native American days to modern times to the early '20s to the era of westward expansion. I would describe Frazier as more "evocative" than Raban and, in that capacity, perhaps he is MORE successful at a style of writing that honors the horizontal vastness that is the Great Plains.

Really, I found Frazier at his best when he rambled...into the story of the death of Crazy Horse or of his visit to a Montana nuclear missile silo (and the attendant story of America's nuclear race with Russia) or of his discovery of the still-extant ghost-town of Nicodemus, Kansas.

As with most of the books I've read recently, I've been going at this by fits and starts with sizable time-gaps (sometimes weeks) between each rather brief encounter. But this is a book that rewards even that kind of intermittent reading and its easy rambling style almost best suits that sort of reading.

I picked up this book because it is about my home (born in Nebraska), and I am coming to realize more and more the formative impact of "place" upon who we are (this may also explain my fascination in my biblical studies with the effect of exile upon the national and spiritual identity of ancient Israel). I suppose the greatest recommendation I could give it is that, whenever I got the chance to pick it up again, within just a few minutes, I found myself transported again to a windswept rolling expanse of ruler-straight corn-rows, swaying grasses, and skies as blue and open as the wondering-eyes of a child. In other words, Frazier gave me the gift of home. ( )
  Jared_Runck | Aug 5, 2015 |
Eh. As one who grew up on the edge of the plains and has traveled across them many times, I guess it's ok my perspective differs from that of a NYC journalist. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Written by someone with an obvious love for and facination with the geography, history and lore of the Great Plans, Frazier made me want to spend a year exploring its vastness. ( )
  wareagle78 | Mar 21, 2014 |
This book is romantic and elegiac. His accounts of Crazy Horse's life and death, the people he meets and the vast, unpeopled plains he travels across remain in the memory. ( )
  Welshwoman | Jan 5, 2011 |
Had I not read Travels in Siberia first, I would have loved this book even more. As I noted in my review of that book, Frazier has a wonderful ability to talk to all sorts of people, tell their stories, and weave history, the natural world, and tales of the road together. In this book, he takes the reader to the least inhabited part of the North American continent and, as he travels from Montana in the north to Texas in the south, and from New Mexico in the west to Kansas in the east, the reader learns about the history of the Native Americans of the area (including the life and death of Crazy Horse), the stories of immigrants lured to the plains, the challenges of farming in such a dry region, the nuclear missile silos buried beneath concrete platforms in the middle of nowhere, and much more. What makes this so fascinating is Frazier's lively curiosity, readable style, and humanity.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Dec 30, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312278500, Paperback)

National Bestseller

With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull’s cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:14 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

With a unique blend of intrepid adventure, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey through the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains--from the site of Sitting Bull's cabin to an abandoned House once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the Heart of the American West.… (more)

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