Libertarians on the Prairie
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books
Generations of children have fallen in love with the pioneer saga of the Ingalls family, of Pa and Ma, Laura and her sisters, and their loyal dog, Jack. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books have taught millions of Americans about frontier life, giving inspiration to many and in the process becoming icons of our national identity. Yet few realize that this cherished bestselling series wandered far from the actual history of the Ingalls family and from what Laura herself understood to be central truths about pioneer life.
In this groundbreaking narrative of literary detection, Christine Woodside reveals for the first time the full extent of the collaboration between Laura and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Rose hated farming and fled the family homestead as an adolescent, eventually becoming a nationally prominent magazine writer, biographer of Herbert Hoover, and successful novelist, who shared the political values of Ayn Rand and became mentor to Roger Lea MacBride, the second Libertarian presidential candidate. Drawing on original manuscripts and letters, Woodside shows how Rose reshaped her mother's story into a series of heroic tales that rebutted the policies of the New Deal. Their secret collaboration would lead in time to their estrangement. A fascinating look at the relationship between two strong-willed women, Libertarians on the Prairie is also the deconstruction of an American myth.
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A Good Book About Two Vile Women
I’ve heard people say “if you love the Little House books, don’t read this book.” I don’t think it matters. Either you’re open to the possibility that those books are actually works of fiction, or you’re not. Either you’re open to the possibility that Laura doesn’t always believe in doing the right thing, or you’re not. If you’re not, this won’t change you’re mind. It will just be a waste of your time. If you are, you’re in for a wild ride. Neither Laura nor Rose are particularly likeable women. Be prepared for the “always do the right thing” family to commit tax fraud and recommend tax evasion. Quite frankly, the word that comes most readily to mind when thinking of these women is: vile.
The views expressed by Rose and Laura aren’t even consisted within themselves. Everyone just needs to work hard in order to be successful is followed by some people are just too low born to have any hope of bettering themselves, no matter how hard they work. This is followed by, those who are not successful are getting what they deserve. So according to the Ingles Wilder/Wilder Lane logic, hard work makes everyone successful, unless you’re too low born, then there is no helping you, but it’s your fault you were low born. Their entire world view is based on a misunderstanding (that still exists today) of the Horatio Alger Myth. Rose has pointed out the flaw in her own thinking and hasn’t even realised it. Not everyone can pull themselves up by their boot straps because not everyone is born with boots. Unlike Horatio Alger’s characters, not everyone born without boots has someone come along and hand them boots.
I have only one complaint about the actual book itself (Woodside‘s writing). The book argues that Rose was a self made intellectual. She implies on at least a few occasions that Rose Wilder Lane was a classic autodidact. So why does Woodside reduce her to a number on the scale/the size of her waistline when she could have just said Rose had noticeably aged? Woodside has photos in the back. People could have figured it out for themselves. Instead, she called her “white-haired” and “overweight.” So even thought Woodside is arguing that this woman is brilliant and made herself that way with no outside help, she’s still only as valuable as her weight. Why does her appearance make any difference? It makes no sense.
This author continues to frustrate me. She describes pictures without including them for readers to see, and references stories without even a basic description of contents, and then attributes emotions to Laura and Rose that paint both very negatively but without giving real proof to the reader. We are to assume for example that Laura looked “uncomfortable” in a photo by a modern house Rose built for her and felt it was too modern. There’s no proof at all of this and on top of that we don’t even get the picture! I’m so sick of the negativity without proof after 20% of the book I’m done. I wish I could get a refund.