And ultimately a failure. The prairie diaspora continues, and those states in the middle will continue to lose population. The oil field booms are going to be temporary. The plains will someday return to grass again.
Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier by Joanna L. Stratton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
These are my people, and I like reading about them. Lovers of Willa Cather or Laura Ingalls Wilder should run out right now and find this book. For those who romanticize the good old days, or who have a Little House on the Prairie fetish, this will definitely open your eyes as to how utterly difficult those days actually were. Every single thing our prairie ancestors had to do was done by hand, from the land - and Nature was always waiting, waiting to take it back, and maybe take their lives along with it. Nothing was easy - but Stratton also details, cites and excerpts many, many examples of how wonderfully fun and invigorating that time was as well. Pioneer women did not know what the future held; they did not know how damaging their impact would be on the environment; their world views did not take into account the people who lived on the land when they came. If some of the things the pioneer women did were offensive to modern sensibilities, much of what they did was heroic. They left everything they knew to build a new land, in a country that was lonely, desolate, and far from hospitable. It's interesting and sad to think that ultimately though that they failed; the populations of those prairie states continues to decline, and the great homesteading experiment all came to naught. That does not discount their heroism either. If anything, we should all strive to find the pioneer woman (or man) inside of us today.
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