Magazine February 5, 2018, Issue

On the Frontier

Laura Ingalls Wilder (
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser (Metropolitan, 640 pp., $35)

In 1937, Laura Ingalls Wilder explained her motivation for writing her already well-loved Little House books: “What a wonderful childhood I had had. . . . I realized that I had seen and lived it all — all the successive phases of the frontier, first the frontiersman, then the pioneer, then the farmers and the towns. Then I understood that in my own life I represented a whole period of American history.”

In this new book, author Caroline Fraser has turned Wilder’s evocation of progressive phases of western American history upside down. What the dust jacket calls the “first comprehensive historical

To Read the Full Story
Dedra McDonald Birzer is a lecturer in history at Hillsdale College. She is the author of a forthcoming book on Rose Wilder Lane and her public intellectual community.

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