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Bad Land: An American Romance (1996)

by Jonathan Raban

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8261720,363 (3.92)45
Seduced by the government's offer of 320 acres per homesteader, Americans and Europeans rushed to Montana and the Dakotas to fulfill their own American dream in the first decade of this century. Raban's stunning evocation of the harrowing, desperate reality behind the homesteader's dream strips away the myth--while preserving the romance--that has shrouded our understanding of our own heartland.… (more)
  1. 10
    Homesteading: A Montana Family Album by Percy Wollaston (davidcla)
    davidcla: One of the source narratives for Raban's Bad Land.
  2. 00
    Bad Dirt by Annie Proulx (John_Vaughan)
  3. 00
    Coast to Coast by Jan Morris (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Despite a time seperation these two works, both from English authors, reflect similar viewpoints.
  4. 00
    The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: A different part of the country, but a similar tale of immigrant farmers and enormous determination.
  5. 00
    Evelyn Cameron: Montana's Frontier Photographer by Kristi Hager (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: More on the frontier photographer.
  6. 00
    Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon (John_Vaughan)
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Read 2016. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 8, 2020 |
Evocative. The Big Sky Country of Montana is a powerfully lonely place full of the abandoned houses and broken dreams of those who fell for what the railroads were selling.

Bonus for me was the Evelyn Cameron material. How nice for me that Bad Land included stories that didn’t make it into the book about her photography. She had a pretty good frame of mind for all the hard labor she did, keeping lists of the “Chores Galore!” In her diary. I liked learning that she got herself a banjo and a Victrola for entertainment.
  KaterinaBead | Dec 29, 2019 |
Account of early settlers drawn to the Dakotas by unreasonable brochures and the hardships they faced. ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 18, 2017 |
Early 20th Century settlers were lured to the Montana area for free land for settlement.
Over the years, the harsh conditions were too much for the majority of them
The author has returned to the area with a comprehensive report from the people who remained to settle these remote areas. ( )
  pgabj | Dec 28, 2016 |
This book has taught me more about the American past than all my studies taken together. Maybe several assumptions in the train of thought, but highly plausible and well-researched. As for the writing - I'm glad he hasn't decided to present his findings in scholarly prose, as Schama would. Makes it all the more readable and enjoyable without making it less scholarly!
  Kindlegohome | Jul 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
(Entire Review)From Drought to Dissent in the Western Plains
In the present-day West he explores so engagingly in his new book, ''Bad Land: An American Romance,'' Jonathan Raban meets many people hostile to the Federal Government. These dissenters are not only extremists like the members of the Militia of Montana who refuse even to look at him as he eats breakfast in the Landmark Cafe, ''evidently the regimental mess,'' in Noxon, Mont.
 

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Breasting the regular swells of land, on a red dirt road as true as a line of longitude, the car was like a boat at sea.
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Seduced by the government's offer of 320 acres per homesteader, Americans and Europeans rushed to Montana and the Dakotas to fulfill their own American dream in the first decade of this century. Raban's stunning evocation of the harrowing, desperate reality behind the homesteader's dream strips away the myth--while preserving the romance--that has shrouded our understanding of our own heartland.

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