Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Pioneer Girl

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More than eighty years after it was written, fans of the Little House books finally have an opportunity to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography, on which the popular series was based. In a heavily annotated edition, with maps and appendices that enrich the text, here are her memories of her family and their pioneer life from 1869 to 1888 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakota Territory.

Pioneer Girl was intended for adult readers. She had written for the St. Louis Star Farmer and the Missouri Ruralist, but that writing had generally been about farming and the rural lifestyle. After her parents and her older sister passed away, Laura began, at age 63, to devote herself to writing the family’s experiences in the raw American West. This she did in pencil in six tablets that are transcribed and lightly edited for this edition.

Pioneer Girl tells the story of Laura’s growing up years, from age two to eighteen. Taken by itself, without the annotations, it reads as a rough first draft, with all the immediacy that goes with getting memories down on paper quickly. It is fascinating to hear the Little House anecdotes told from an adult perspective, and to confirm the realities of pioneer life. Laura’s voice feels genuine, and the asides to her daughter make it clear that one of her goals was to preserve familiar stories that were part of the family’s legacy. The other object was to get the book published, in part because Laura had writing ambitions, but probably more because the Wilders desperately needed money, both parents and daughter having lost their savings in the economic collapse at the beginning of the Great Depression.

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BUCKSHOT PIE: A Family’s Struggle Through Homesteading, The Great Depression, and WW II

BUCKSHOT PIE

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This is a wonderful book about an American farm family’s struggles and achievements from 1910 to the present time. In 1910, the Gregory homesteaded a 350-acre farm in Whitman county, Washington State. The author writes about the courageous struggles to turn the land into a successful wheat farm, and about the lives, hopes, and sorrows of the family. They then struggled through the Roosevelt-created Depression.

During WWII, Pearl Gregory’s sons fought in WWII. One of the sons, Charles was stationed in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked in 1941. After barely surviving in the jungle for months with Filipino native fighters, he was captured by the Japanese. He had to endure the Bataan Death March to a Japanese concentration camp. The story of his 2.5 years of torture, starvation, and beatings by the Japanese was heartbreaking.
We also read about Pearl’s three other sons who fought in the war. ‘Speck’ Gregory flew 55 bombing missions as a gunner/radio operator over Sicily and Italy. Another son flew dozens of missions on cargo planes in North Africa. Another son fought in Europe and was captured by the Germans, to spend almost two years in a German prison camp.
The author, Chris Gregory, was a Marine who fought in Vietnam.

A Haunted History of Louisiana Plantations

A Haunted History of Louisiana Plantations

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There are many stories told about Louisiana plantations. Beyond the doors of these beautiful homes are stories of hope and subjugation, tragedy and suffering, shame and perseverance and war and conquest. Cheryl H. White and W. Ryan Smith reveal the dark history, folklore and lasting human cost of Louisiana plantation life.