Prairie Fires

Prairie Fires

The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A comprehensive historical portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder that draws on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries and official records to fill in the gaps in Wilder's official story, sharing details about her pioneer experiences.
Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2017.
New York : Metropolitan Books, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ℗♭2017.
ISBN: 9781627792769
Characteristics: xiv, 625 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : map, photographs (black and white) ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

Pulitzer Prize 2018

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 22, 2020

Although I must say I ran out of time and did not finish the book, I enjoyed most of what I read. I grew up a big fan of Laura's and still love each series from her family. Her books were from a child's point of view, very innocent even when describing the harsh living conditions of that time. This book filled me in on what the government was doing to influence each of their moves. I got background info on characters from her stories and found out that one of their good friends was Canadian. Always love it when photos are included throughout the book!

Dec 31, 2019

Last on page 174

Oct 21, 2018

Fraser provides the real story and the context of Wilder’s life and times. I read this as a study in the concept of manifest destiny I’ve been studying this year. I didn’t complete it past that discussion as I’d read 'Laura Ingalls Wilder Prairie Girl: The Annotated Autobiography,' edited by Pamela Smith-Hill, and I was covering similar ground. Author has strong opinions. Interesting, even when I didn’t agree.

Sep 22, 2018

I never read the Little House books, but I read Fraser’s biography of Mary Baker Eddy: God’s Perfect Child, and I thought this would be interesting. I was very impressed with the historical background Fraser provided, and her insightful study of grandmother, mother, and daughter and their complex relationships, as expressed in their books and their lives. I believe that nobody will need to write another biography of Laura.

Sep 07, 2018

I was disappointed as the book was more about the life of Rose Wilder than it was about her mother, Laura.

Jul 06, 2018

Lots of history most people don't have a clue about. Wish there would have been a family tree drawn up for Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her books were not all fiction. She only told the good parts. Life was hard and brutal back then. Would not have made a good read for children who could not comprehend life back then. This book was more about the dynamics between Rose Wilder and Laura Wilder. It could have been a lot shorter. As someone else commented this book would have been better served to readers in two volumes. One about Laura and her life. The other about Rose.

Jun 08, 2018

I'm happy other people liked it but I hated it.

The whole second half of the book was a back and forth between Lane's right wing nut job ideology and the author's left wing nut job dogma. Struck me as a microcosm of America today. Too bad Lane is not with us today. She and the author deserve to live together.

I only finished it because I grew up very close to Walnut Grove, MN.

Waste of time for me.

Just my opinion.

May 24, 2018

This tome (it has 85 pages of footnotes) requires a serious commitment by the reader. Fraser has written a comprehensive biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. She describes the creation process for the Little House books and makes a case that it took the talents and efforts of both women to create the iconic series. Fraser also explores the social context and history during the women's lifetimes and exploits the myth that a small farmer could ever make a living by hard work and self-reliance. The book ends with a very clear picture of the difficult and tortured relationship between Laura and Rose. If you prefer the version of pioneer life described in Wilder's book, this is probably not the tome for you.

May 05, 2018

I am glad I read this biography. It helped me understand Laura Ingalls Wilder and her motivation for writing. I was one of the thousands of little girls who wanted to grow up and be Laura. As I child I didn't understand why these books were in the Fiction section of the library.
But now that I know how the books relate to reality I am glad for the choices Laura (and Rose) made.

This book also contains biographical information on Rose Wilder Lane that is not easily available elsewhere. She would probably do better in this century with access to better healthcare.

I appreciated the references to authors contemporary to Laura. And, the effort to understand the societal conditions she as she grew up. It's hard to believe this work would receive the Pulitzer Prize if it was heavily biased or inaccurate.

Apr 04, 2018

A different biography than I’d expected. My interest in protagonist Laura Wilder was overpowered by her daughter Rose who was, like eye floaters, to dazzle and disturb.
Trying to shake off ridiculing the lady writers, I don’t feel cheated for being viscerally touched at certain points, my mind can focus on the landscape (nature, human, culture, economics, politics, literature) that the book masterfully paints.

Nevertheless it’s the most important (crushed my kaleidoscopic imagery of a romanticized pioneer life) and objective (journalism, political & economic movements involving many figures known and yet known to me) book I’ve read on frontiers lives.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jan 27, 2018

In the 1890s...”human caused climate change combined with natural weather patterns to wreak absolute havoc.”

Wo source citation. Because there is none. There is no scientific source to support human caused climate changes were occuring in 1890.

Dec 20, 2017

It is beyond all human power to tell all the facts....Facts are infinite in number. The truth is a meaning underlying them; you tell the truth by selecting the facts which illustrate it.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at CAPL

To Top