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Wisconsin Death Trip Paperback – 30 Jan 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; New Ed edition (30 Jan. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826321933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826321930
  • Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Protestants behaving strangely in the 1890's. . . . an outbreak of craziness--multiple murders, suicides, ghost sightings, epidemics, guntoting teenagers, schoolmarms hooked on cocaine and general mental illness (well, an insane asylum was nearby)--all in a little town called Black River Falls, populated mostly by German and Scandinavian immigrants."

Compelling both as history and as literature, it is a small masterpiece of the historians art.

Lesys reading of rural decay is history with a wrench, unfolding a scenario worthy of Dreiser, Faulkner, or Joyce Carol Oates at their grimmest.

ÝThis¨ is an impressive example of the poetry of history. . . . There can be no question that this original work makes us deeply feel one form that misery has taken; and in causing us to feel, as well as consider, "Wisconsin Death Trip "has enlarged on the uses of history.

Protestants behaving strangely in the 1890s. . . . an outbreak of crazinessmultiple murders, suicides, ghost sightings, epidemics, guntoting teenagers, schoolmarms hooked on cocaine and general mental illness (well, an insane asylum was nearby)all in a little town called Black River Falls, populated mostly by German and Scandinavian immigrants.

In Van Schaicks time, ordinary people did not have cameras, difficult contraptions that involved black powder and heavy glass plates; to record the passages of a lifebirths, marriages, store openings, funeralsso they turned to a professional. Lesy noticed Van Schaickss many pictures of dead infants and children, dressed in their christening gowns, now placed in tiny coffins. As he looked for the story behind these photos, he found a story of plagues: of murder, suicide, farm and business failures, madness, addiction, tramp armies, and the ruin of childhood and the desolation of families by epidemics of diptheria, typhoid, smallpox, and flu. Lesy made a montage, using items from the local paper, contemporaneous regional fiction and poetry, asylum records and the photographs left by Van Schaick, who in Lesys pages emerges as Arbuss unknown ancestor

[This] is an impressive example of the poetry of history. . . . There can be no question that this original work makes us deeply feel one form that misery has taken; and in causing us to feel, as well as consider, "Wisconsin Death Trip "has enlarged on the uses of history.

From the Inside Flap

A shocking portrait of a small town crumbling--socially, morally, physically and emotionally--under the impact of the great depression of the 1890s. This "cult classic" is now available again in paperback.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
First published in 1973, Lesy's book has been reprinted to tie in with BBC2's fictionalised account of "Wisconsin Death Trip". Lesy has put together an involving account of life in Black River Falls, Wisonsin, at the turn of the century. Original photographs and clippings from a local newspaper are combined with revealing literature extracts to create a vivid picture of a town struggling to survive into the 20th century. Visually the book is stunning, from the minimalist cover design to the pages of black and white photographs and the attractive lay out of the text. Lesy is an almost invisible editor, limiting personal comment to an essay at the end of the book and preferring to let the haunting photographs and spare yet affecting text tell their own, enthralling story.
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Format: Paperback
This is an absolutely fascinating book and, as my title suggests, it does indeed steal time. The news articles are just long enough to make you think, "I've got time to read one more" and of course, there is no way the next story could be more interesting that the last ...or could it? Each bizarre tale of oddity or woe is just as enthralling as the last.

This book does make you wonder, what on earth was happening in Wisconsin to make people act this crazy? Reading it, the answer is quite clear that the harsh situations these people were living in, were enough to make even the sanest person start to act a little strangely.

I originally bought this for the photography. I am a professional photographer and a keen enthusiast of early photography. This book most certainly did not disappoint. The photographs speak volumes of the era and give an insight into the workings of a fragile and unstable area. Charles Van Schaick's images are bold, delicate, strange (sometimes quite unsettling in fact), heartfelt, and in many cases quite pioneering. He has a photographer's eye unlike any I have seen before from his era.

I cannot recommend this book enough, it is by far one of my favourite books of all time, and I am certain that if you purchase it, it will have a place in your heart as well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What an odd book, snippets from local and state newspapers around end of 19th century all about death by fair means and foul. A compelling read I couldn't put it down. The only thing that would have improved it for me would be names to identify all the fabulous photos of the people of that place and time. Would highly recommend this book for an unusual but very interesting read.
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