Bad Land: An American Romance

Bad Land: An American Romance

by Jonathan Raban

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Seduced by the government's offer of 320 acres per homesteader, Americans and Europeans rushed to Montana and the Dakotas to fulfill their own American dream in the first decade of this century. Raban's stunning evocation of the harrowing, desperate reality behind the homesteader's dream strips away the myth--while preserving the romance--that has shrouded our understanding of our own heartland.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307798442
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/20/2011
Series: Vintage Departures
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 13,188
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Jonathan Raban is the author of Soft City, Arabia, Old Glory, Foreign Land, For Love and Money, Coasting, and Hunting Mr. Heartbreak. He won the W.H. Heinemann Award for Literature in 1982 and the Thomas Cook Award in 1981 and 1991. He has also edited the Oxford Book of the Sea. He lives in Seattle.


Seattle, Washington

Date of Birth:

June 14, 1942

Place of Birth:

Norfolk, England

Table of Contents

1The Open Door3
5Plain Sailing147
6Heavy Weather189
7Clinging to the Wreckage243
8Off the Map270
9Woods and Water300

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Bad Land: An American Romance 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like American history, you'll appreciate this well-researched study of the settlement and agricultural development attempts of the American west.
Anonymous 28 days ago
dele2451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting history of the settlement of the desolate prairies of Montana. A definite recommend for anybody interested in the history of the railroads, farming in the US, immigration, Montana, settlement of the plains and later the Pacific Northwest, etc.
mapconsultant on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent! Will be easy to read this a second time.
listorama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being a railroad nut, I greatly enjoyed this historic look at railroads in Montana and how they promoted settlement, often without much regard to "truth in advertising." Many dreams were shattered as a result of the raising of false hopes about the fertility of the land, suitablity for grazing, presence of sufficient rainfall, and the like. A mood of sadness pervades the text.I read the book in 1997 and after the passage of eleven years what I remember most about the book is an anecdote regarding Ismay, a tiny, isolated, farming town in southeastern Montana. Ismay, like many little communities, came into existence through the efforts of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. It is the site of a grain elevator. In 1993, in an attempt to draw tourists and their money, it renamed itself to "Joe," after football star Joe Montana. ("Hey, let's go to Joe Montana!") I have been to Ismay/Joe and walked along its handful of short streets. Sadly, for little towns off the beaten track, a gimmick name can't help much.Just one complaint about the book---it lacks footnotes, a bibliography, and an index. This is an unforgivable shortcoming for such a work of non-fiction, thus the three stars.
Aetatis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Evocative and compelling.
maneekuhi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Bad Land" is the first book of Q2, 17th of the year, rated 2 1/2 roses. So what's the book about - the author answered the question this way - Montana. Homesteads. Deserted Houses. The empty prairie. Dry farming. You know......I would add: early 1900's, failure, survival, weather, 160 acres, toughness, independence. It's NOT history, it's almost a collection of interwoven essays. It's unusual......but at times it was also boring - it didn't work for me. But it won an NBA (pub 1996), and received excellent reviews from all the right places. So I understand Montana a bit more than I did before reading this, but I ain't itchin' to go see it.
mldavis2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction, this book on the history of the railroads and settlers in Montana earns its ratings. Partly history, partly a travelogue across desolate and partially abandoned territory, author Raban does a good job of writing and holding the reader's attention as his journey unfolds.
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of one of the last homesteading opportunities of the American west. A hundred years ago a railway was built from Chicago to Puget Sound, across the great, unsettled expanse of North Dakota and Montana. Now railroads need customers and so "The Big Open" was advertised as a great opportunity, with homesteads carved from what previously only held a few ranches. New, scientific farming methods were sure to bring prosperity to all who farmed there. By the middle of the Great Depression, the land was almost as empty as it had been before the homesteaders arrived, the decaying towns and abandoned farmhouses the only evidence of what had once been. Jonathan Raban, a transplanted Brit, explores the geography and the history of eastern Montana, learning about the kind of person who stayed through the worst of it and about the people who still remain. Bad Land is an intriguing combination of a social history and a contemporary look at the people who live there today. He's clearly fascinated by the place and it's impossible not to get caught up in the passion he feels for this difficult land.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago