Bad Land: An American Romance by Jonathan Raban

Raban (Old Glory), an Englishman now settled in Seattle, has written a vivid and utterly idiosyncratic social history of the homesteading movement in eastern Montana that went boom and bust during the first three decades of this century. It is the story of a dream turned sour that still echoes in the western American consciousness. Lured by free land from the government and a deceptive publicity campaign mounted by the local railroad, thousands from all over the eastern United States and northern Europe went to Montana to make their fortune as farmers. Raban follows the stories of several families, most of which end in heartbreak. He examines the literature that lured them there and the how-to books they read once they arrived. He tells the story of an early photographer, a woman, who recorded life on the prairie. He covers the weather, the homegrown school system, the early bankrupting fad of replacing horses with tractors, a Depression-era town built by the WPA and?most recently?the failed attempt of the dying community of Ismay to revive itself by changing its name to Joe, Montana, in the vain hope of luring football fans. Raban combines his personal experiences during the two years he traveled in Montana with historical research to argue that, given the land and the weather, the homesteading scheme was doomed to failure. The legacy today, seen most dramatically in the anti-government militia movement, is the belief, rooted in family memory, that government and big business conspire together against the little folk. This seemingly informal yet careful blend of chronicle and personal reportage is social history at its best.

The 810th greatest nonfiction book of all time


This book is on the following lists:

  1. - National Book Critics Circle Award - Nonfiction (National Book Critics Circle)

Buy This Book

Name Binding Sales Rank Lowest New Lowest Used Published
Bad Land: An American Romance Hardcover 1050723 $2.77 $0.01 1996
Bad Land Paperback 1888321 $6.00
Bad Lands An American Romance Paperback 11421031 $14.83 $14.76 1997
Bad Land Paperback 3434660 $9.36 $0.01 1997
Bad Land Hardcover 4850031 $36.59 $0.01 1996
Bad Land: An American Romance Audio Cassette 4935139 $54.00 $15.00 1998
Bad Land: An American Romance Hardcover 4636282 $146.82 $0.09
Bad Land: An American Romance (SIGNED) Paperback 7043272 $16.80 $10.78
Bad Land: An American Romance Paperback 401636 $6.39 $1.25 1997
Bad Land: An American Romance (Vintage Departures) Kindle Edition 396029 $9.99 2011