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Great Plains by Ian Frazier
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Great Plains (1989)

by Ian Frazier

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6781123,209 (3.91)26
A journey through the vast and myth-inspiring empty plains

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Great Plains is a well written collection of essays. Frazier draws on a wide array of naturalism as well as regional history to discuss different subjects, such as ruins andLawrence Welk or his personal experience at historic forts interspersed with the history. What bugged me about Frazier's writing is the manic curiosity, at some points driving the writing forward but also creating a kind of specter, tapping, pointing, jumping up and down and while some might attribute this to his excitement I would also venture its a result of a weak explanation or at least weak articulation of his research. At one location a park ranger/guide invites Frazier to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony, he declines saying he needs to get going, but then he spends an inordinate amount of time recounting his conversation with a Sioux man on the streets of New York. Surely actually experiencing a Native American ritual would have been more worthwhile for the purpose of this book. As the notes demonstrate, Frazier's done his homework but his actual writing of Native American history seems too glossed, too palatable due to the brevity of his writing. ( )
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
Lots of interesting facts for someone who has never been there. Easy to read. ( )
  TheWasp | Jul 25, 2019 |
This is a very good book about the Great Plains as it was and the natives who were there first. I read this book while in the Great Plains which made it more exciting. ( )
  shelbycassie | Aug 5, 2018 |
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 | Jun 6, 2016 |
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 |
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Away to the Great Plains of America, to that immense Western short-grass prairie now mostly plowed under!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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