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Great Plains [Paperback]

Ian Frazier
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 4 2001
National Bestseller

With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains. A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull’s cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.

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Great Plains + Travels in Siberia
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Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Frazier, staff writer for the New Yorker and author of Dating Your Mom , here explores the Great Plains at random, seeking the past and embracing the present. According to PW , "This is an engaging blend of travelogue, local color, geography and folklore." Photos. 100,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Extraordinary...One thinks of such American originals as John McPhee,
Wallace Stegner, Edward Hoagland, Peter Matthiessen, and Evan S. Connell.” —The Washington Post Book World

“This is a brillant, funny, and altogether perfect book, soaked in research and then aired out on the open plains to evaporate the excess, leaving this modern masterpiece. It makes me want to get in a truck and drive straight out to North Dakota and look at the prairie.” —Garrison Keillor

“History written with passion and delight... Frazier is a great storyteller.” —Newsweek

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
AWAY to the Great Plains of America, to that immense Western short-grass prairie now mostly plowed under! Read the first page
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Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The America that never was and will be again. April 2 2004
Format:Paperback
Frazier's book portrays the middle of America truly and entertainingly. He basically condenses his wanderings through the plains region of America into several vignettes, historical personages and occurences that convey a sense of this place. Most of what passes for "American" these days comes from the much more populous bi-coastal regions. But there is still a core of small towns, farms and small businesses that exists in our collective memories and Frazier found the real-life remnants of this culture.
This book is well-written and entertaining. The small events that Frazier uses to illustrate the great plains region of the US are excellent vignettes that portray a deeper meaning than just the event itself. For example, the author is attending a community get-together in Nicodemus, Kansas where diverse groups of people are enjoying each others company and experiences a joyful epiphany. "This democracy, this land of freedom and equality and the pursuit of happiness -- it could have worked! There is something to it, after all!" I hope everyone has one of those moments occasionally and it is a joy to read Frazier's retelling of his.
Frazier does a great job of examining controversial events without throwing in snide sarcasms that seem to pass for commentary these days. Case-in-point is his stories about Crazy Horse and other plains Indians and Custer and the whites who interacted with them. He assigns equal doses of blame and credit to both sides. I loved his pages on Crazy Horse and also the pages about an exuberant Custer who loved the plains region just as deeply as the Indians. The quote Frazier uses "For bringing us the horse we could almost forgive you for bringing us whiskey" sums up the fine edge that Frazier balances on so well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Audio Version is a Great Journey Dec 29 2003
Format:Audio Cassette
I thoroughly enjoyed the audio tape version of this book and wished it were longer. If there was an unabridged version, I would buy it. I kept this in my car tape player for a week or so while doing short errands, and found myself sitting in the car in parking lots listening a little longer when I should have been getting out and getting my errands over with. Frazier is the ultimate dry-humorist with a very humble style, layering facts upon facts, upon observations notebook-style and leaving me chuckling without him ever having "cracked a joke." The tape simultaneously made me want to drive through the Great Plains while also making me feel that if I never do visit the region I have a much better idea of it. I learned about Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, General Custer, contemporary folks, the land, much more. What is particular noteworthy about this tape, is that unlike so many audio books, this one is read by the author himself. While not the sonorous-voiced typical narrator I was expecting, I ultimately found Frazier's voice particularly charming and satisfying, knowing that probably no one else could capture the essence and tone of the work so well. There is compassion in his voice, enthusiasm, wonderment and wry humor. This tape set was fun, humorous, educational, heartfelt, and as open and breezy as the Great Plains. Thank you Ian Frazier!
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the Great Plains July 18 2003
By Indybg
Format:Paperback
This book was recommended to me as a good read before embarking on a road trip to North Dakota this summer. It's a great portrait of the plains from someone who clearly loves them, and enjoys the contradiction of celebrating as heroes both Custer and Crazy Horse, Billy the Kid and Anabaptist settlers.
Frazier has talent, but what he really needs is an editor. It's not that the book is long--in fact, it's an easy read--but it's uneven. The nearly stream-of-consciousness first chapter is brilliant, managing to evoke a trip to the Great Plains as being as much of an adventure now, when it's merely flyover, as it was when it was the frontier. And he does a very fine job of discussing the environmental degradation of the plains without letting the text get bogged down. But when he goes off on (another) stream-of-consciousness rhapsody about the joy inspired by a fashion show in small-town Kansas, it's embarrassing. And the ending chapter, set back in New York City, feels predictable and forced.
But don't let these flaws deter you from buying this book. If you have any interest in the subject matter, it's an engrossing read that'll make you want to see the plains for yourself. Which I'll be doing very soon now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Let's Go Right Now! May 30 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Imagine a car trip thru the Plains states with Umberto Eco and Bill Bryson. You are along in the back seat. As you drive along Umberto enlightens on western lore....Crazy Horse as American culture hero, Lawrence Welk as a musical powerhouse, smallpox vaccination programs for Indians in the 1830's, the ecological importance of tumbleweeds, and on and on. Bill takes us to see Sitting Bull's house lot, abondoned ABM control centers, a cattle ranch 50 miles long, off beat museums, cheap motels. There's plenty of hitchhikers and odd characters along the way to add their stories. Neither one of these authors are in the book, but to me Frazier has the many of their good attributes and it makes for a most plesant read. As you turn the pages you don't know what's around the next bend. But for sure there's going to be bizzare revelations and fun sightseeing. My favorite chapter is #4. It's sort of how the west was tamed. Told in a stream of conscieness using fact/sentences barely related, it's good. Frazier really knows Indians and western lore. I'm sure you'll find it a fun read and maybe see the plains diferently.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Plain Joy
Let me add just these two things to the remarks of the many other reviewers: Ian Frazier's rhapsodic discussion of the joy the Great Plains engender (like the mysticism of deserts... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Ross E. Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Giants in the Earth
Ian Frazier writes about the wonders he's found driving up and down the North American plains. His personal accounts and stories may prompt many readers to recall the wonders that... Read more
Published on April 28 2003 by Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars On the road
Great Plains is a cross between Kathleen Norrisï¿ "Dakota" and William Least Heat Moonï¿s "Blue Highways. Read more
Published on July 30 2002 by Ronald Scheer
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Plains gadabout
GREAT PLAINS by Ian Frazier is one of those travel essays that might serve as the source of arcane facts useful as party trivia. Read more
Published on June 14 2002 by Joseph Haschka
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting If Uneven Plains Impressions
This book is interesting at times. Unfortunately, it is also uneven and uninspired in places.
The author paints impressions of the Great Plains, that wide open part of... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2002 by Wayne A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey Through the Heart of America
Ian Frazier's multi-Plains-state odyssey encounters Indians, farmers, cattlemen, outlaws, Anabaptists, the United States Air Force, and most importantly, Lawrence Welk. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on the Great Plains
A resident of the Plains, I've read this book several times now, enjoying it always. An engaging, soon-to-be-classic regional travelogue in the best tradition of William Least... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Puncturevine
3.0 out of 5 stars Tumbling Tumbleweeds
This book is not a tourist book of the Great Plains but rather some interesting vignettes of the area as perceived by the author, Ian Frazier,about a vast expanse of 'big sky'... Read more
Published on April 23 2001 by John Elsegood
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but something's missing here
While I did enjoy Great Plains, I don't think this is Ian Frazier's greatest work. I found myself wanting more details of some of his experiences, and less description of general... Read more
Published on July 28 2000 by Blair Parker
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