cover image Nobel Dreams: Power, Deceit, and the Ultimate Experiment

Nobel Dreams: Power, Deceit, and the Ultimate Experiment

Gary Taubes. Random House (NY), $19.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54503-5

The author chronicles the development of a rural prairie community from settlement (in 1817) through its first six decades; from the egalitarian conditions of the frontier to classes of owner-operators, tenants and hired laborers. Faragher, associate professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, has written an engaging social history of Sugar Creek in Sangamon County, Ill. Early emigrants found the prairie a threatening environment and settled at the edge of woodlands; within 20 years they had created a distinctive rural landscape. The author examines the family and kinship network in a patriarchal society and the nature of community life; he traces the progress of agriculture, from subsistence to commercial, and the decline of home industries. The sustaining elements of rural community, he finds, are local governance, churches and kinship. Here, succinctly set out, is the American prairie experience. Illustrations. (January 14)