on 15 April 2010
Although I have never been there myself (and may never go there), I think that Frazier gives a good idea of how the Great Plain are and were. Since his travels took place in the 80's, some nore recent developments (like depopulation or bio-ethanol) may not have been considered, but anyway the book focusses on the time between 1870 and 1940, which -I assume- was one of the most interesting periods in the plains, from Sitting Bull to the Great Dust Bowl. He obviously took a special liking in the history of Crazy Horse. Perhaps a few, more personal impressions would have made the book even better.
When I bought the book, I wanted something to read something about a place that I certainly will not visit myself. After reading it, I may have changed my mind on that.
on 24 December 2012
Good reportage, probably not in depth enough and a bit fractured in places as his journey does not follow an established pattern. Not laugh out loud, but found myself smiling quite a lot. Unbiased about the native Indian which a lot of US books are not, they seem to thrive on matter of fact racism.
It is a quick read, and gives a good insight into US culture of cars, driving and their paranoia in the cold war.
on 9 September 2015
Beautifully written all round description of the great flat grasslands between the Mississippi and the Rockies (more or less, see Ian Frazier for details). A bit too much history for me, at the expense of geology and topography but some lovely anecdotes of the empty roads and huge landscapes and it is a pleasure to read someone who clearly loves and enjoys this wonderful landscape in all its seasons and moods.
Just makes you want to climb into that old pick up truck and head on down that dusty road.
on 16 October 2008
The perfect antidote to shallow, flaccid newspaper and TV travel reporting, the author spent years driving the grassy emptiness of America's mid-west and creates a wonderfully readable tale of what happened to the Great Plains after the indians were kicked out. It's really funny, and brings a fresh eye to familiar stories. For example, Custer was just up for a laugh and Crazy Horse was the greatest ever American. There are horrific accounts of Kansas's last lynching, Bonnie and Clyde without the Hollywood glam, the sickening story of the killing of millions of buffalo, but plenty of heart-warming stuff too.
For any budding writer, this is a must read.
on 2 December 2015
Beautifully written, wry, passionate and opinionated: this is an idiosyncratic career across the Great Plains taking in the Cold War, Custer, Crazy Horse, Bonnie and Clyde, the fates of the thousands of homesteaders who struggled to make a living from the land and many other perfectly observed vignettes illustrating the lives lived in The Great American Desert. Merely a taster, really, but one that richly repays repeat readings and always seems to offer up one more perfect sentence or utterly striking image.