Mapping the Farm: The Chronicle of a Family

John Hildebrand, Author
John Hildebrand, Author Alfred A. Knopf $23 (1p) ISBN 978-0-679-43009-4
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In 1880, William and Catherine O'Neill, Irish immigrants, settled on a farm near Rochester, Minn. Their grandson Ed runs the farm today, but its future is uncertain; none of his children farms full-time. Hildebrand (Reading the River: A Voyage Down the Yukon) has written an engrossing story about the O'Neills (his in-laws) that documents a century of American agriculture and rural life. Weaving back and forth in time, he limns the golden years prior to WWI, the Depression and drought years, the gradual mechanization of the farm and his own inexpert helping with the chores. Hildebrand takes us to the 1929 Rochester Jubilee celebration and to a recent county fair where the youngest members of the family exhibit prize pigs. He notes that modern farmers depend more on their bankers than on their neighbors. Hildebrand gives a memorable picture of rural society, of a family and community bolstered by their faith and commitment to the land. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
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