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Bad Land: An American Romance (Vintage Departures) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. Oktober 1997


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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 384 Seiten
  • Verlag: Vintage; Auflage: VINTAGE DEPARTU. (7. Oktober 1997)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0679759069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679759065
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,2 x 2 x 20,3 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (22 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 830.449 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Produktbeschreibungen

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Jonathan Raban ambles and picks his way across the Montana prairie, called "The Great American Desert" until Congress offered 320-acre tracts of barren land to immigrants with stardust in their eyes. Raban's prose makes love to the waves of land, red dirt roads, and skeletons of homesteads that couldn't survive the Dirty Thirties. As poignant as any romance novel, there's heartbreak in the failed dreams of the homesteaders, a pang of destiny in the arbitrary way railroad towns were thrown into existence, and inspiration in the heroism of people who've fashioned lives for themselves by cobbling together homes from the ruined houses of those who couldn't make it. Through it all, Raban's voice examines and honors the vast open expanses of land and pays homage to the histories of families who eked out an existence.

Synopsis

In 1993 Jonathan Raban entered the Badlands, a place the size of England and the least visited region in all of the United States. Here he came across the ruins of a community and isolated homesteads. These homes, he realized, gave clues as to the characters and lives of the thousands of landless people who, seduced by the advertising of the railroad companies in the early 20th century, took the train West in search of new lives and a permanent agricultural community. What had happened to turn these homesteaders' hopes of a new beginning into such despair? The land which betrayed them turned out to be an America in miniature. This is their story. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Michael Sol am 3. März 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
Raban does not comment on the collapse of commodity prices after 1917, which is really what crushed these homesteaders. Further, the Milwaukee Road did not mislead anyone, as Raban seems to suggest, the land was, for a generation, lush; Montana produced nearly twice as much wheat per acre as Iowa, for instance, and it was considered a higher quality. This productivity lasted from the Milwaukee's entry in 1905 through 1917. But, even if there had not been a drought beginning in 1917, the crisis would have happened when wheat prices dropped from over $2 a bushel to less than a $1.00, even as low as 63 cents, during a period of 100% inflation in farming expenses. Abundant rain would not have changed what happened to the Honyockers in Eastern Montana, and Raban, unfairly, did not point this important fact out. The collapse in commodity prices crushed the farmers more surely than anything else. Raban fails to note that during wet years that followed, in the early 20's, the banks kept right on failing, the remaining homesteaders continued to give up. All regions of American agriculture have had wet years followed by dry; the statistical record does not suggest that it was particularly unusual that agriculture, anywhere, would be affected by lack of rain; although Raban seems surprised, and blames the Milwaukee Railroad for this event. The more compelling factor, that he missed in Bad Land was the unusual and dramatic collapse of commodity prices at the same time, and the fact that the prices did not recover for another quarter century. Raban tells an interesting story, and tells it well, but misread what actually was happening. And he didn't understand that transcontinental railroads, such as the Milwaukee, were looking for long haul freight.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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Von Ein Kunde am 22. Juni 1999
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Raban's such a good writer, I suppose I'd like any book he wrote (I'm going to find out shortly by getting hold of another). And that is the only reason I liked this book since the subject matter -- settlement of the Northern Plains around 1911 - 1920 -- does not, in itself, compel me. But then again, I didn't know much about it, and Raban very nicely introduced us. So many interesting things . . . how the drawing of the North Dakota / Montana state line around the 104th meridian split these otherwise similarly-sited people and diluted their political power; how the initial "wet years" of 1911 - 1914 gave such false hope, leading to such disillusionment, and eventually further emmigration west, as the "dry years" ensued and blew away their topsoil with their dreams; how they didn't wander into the area, but rather, were seduced into it by the railroads' (read JP Hill's) misrepresentation of the climate and land, the ease of "firming up" one's rather large homestead claim (hundreds of acres for a song), and the new "scientific" method of "dry farming" which promised to re-create the arcadia these settlers remembered from Europe. And I never thought much about hard it would be to build miles of barbed-wire-and-wood-post fences in a land without trees.
Raban argues that this suckering of the little people by the railroads/federal government accounts for the fierce anti-federalism of the seemingly-many up in that area today; that the memory has passed through the generations. So many other memories and ways of life have perservered there on the ranches and such, he may be right.
As to Paul Theroux, Raban says they have been friends for "decades." Raban's writing here is similar to Theroux's in the ironic and honest observations that help propel the narrative. But Raban never says anything like, "I felt like throwing the little old lady off the train."
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Format: Taschenbuch
Raban writes about Montana, and the settlers who came happy but soon left, destitute and disillusioned at the harsh conditions. His comments can apply to the north of the state I live in (South Australia): the mountains and rangelands of the Flinders Ranges. This country was settled in the second half of the last century, on the hope of farming grain and sheep. There were a few years of plenty, then drought forced humans to re-think and retreat. Today the area is renowned for its natural beauty, but has the feel of an empty landscape, and the visitor wonders why. Plenty of local books describe the Flinders today, but it was not until I had read "Bad Land" that I had some understanding of the hopes of settlers, the intense persuasion to go, the reality, and why they decided to leave. Why is "Bad Land" an important book? Much is written about progress, and to-day people think that anything can be done. It is good to be reminded occasionally that there are places where enthusiasm, hard work, the latest technology, abundant finance, and even large amounts of land are not enough to make a go of it, and that humans are still for all their ideas about themselves subject to the forces of the natural world. The book reminds me of "Into thin air", which described a disastrous expedition to climb MtEverest, with many climbers killed by a storm near the summit. The mountaineers placed hope and faith in their technology and expeience, but forgot or were blind to their own frailty. It is interesting that the two books both came out at around the same time.
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