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Leaving the Land Paperback – August 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080329560X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803295605
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,834,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Published in 1984, Unger's debut novel depicts life on the American farm as one women struggles to keep her father's land while facing the harsh realities of modernization.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

“This fine first novel courts comparison with Willa Cather’s . . . O Pioneers! But there is a big difference, since O Pioneers! . . . is about beginnings, while Leaving the Land is, sadly and disturbingly, about endings. It shows family farming giving way to corporate farming and agribusiness. . . . Marge [Hogan] has character, which is probably not inheritable. It is a rare commodity in modern novels.”—New York Times Book Review
(New York Times Book Review)

“Nothing can now reverse the decline of the way of life Unger describes, but his beautiful and haunting book is at least a worthy monument to it.”—[London] Times Literary Supplement
([London] Times Literary Supplement)

“Douglas Unger’s first novel is one of [the] year’s best. . . . He’s made a powerful debut.”—Newsweek
(Newsweek)

“An unusually mature first novel, as unsentimental as its unlucky heroine, but filled with a sly affection for unwitting victims.”—New Yorker
(New Yorker)

“Leaving the Land will win prizes. Or ought to. It is loving and tough and so honest it makes your teeth rattle. . . . An outstanding book about who we are.”—Boston Globe
(Boston Globe)

“A vivid and memorable portrait of a small South Dakota farming community whose colorful folk traditions and way of life are destroyed by corporate agribusiness. The power of the book rests on it realistic characters. . . . Unger’s language is spare and clean—his prose often as stark as the land he describes.”—San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
(San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle)

“An affecting, grittily realistic tale that moves to the steady, compelling rhythm of the changing seasons.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Schumacher on March 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Leaving the Land" by Douglas Unger is a sad book. It doesn't make you laugh much and it has few moments of inspiration. But it is nonetheless an entrancing and all-too-real portrait of the untidy death of a way of life in America. The book focuses on a farming community in South Dakota that is falling victim to changing economics and technological progress in the mid-20th century. As the farmers are forced to sell out and move on, the small town they revolve around begins to die, too. The story focuses on the farmer's daughter, Marge, who, as a young woman, has dreams of something better than herding turkeys all day long, but mistakenly links her happiness to finding a man. This proves to be a big mistake, of course, and she ends up hanging on in the small dying town. Midway through "Leaving the Land," the narrator changes to Marge's son, who recounts the town's demise and his mother's and his travails. Anyone who has enjoyed Kent Haruf's celebrated "Plainsong" will find "Leaving the Land" a worthy read. "Plainsong" is a tad better, primarily because of its comic sensibilities, but they are companion novels in the way they profile a dying way of life in the Great Plains. Like Haruf, Unger is an authoritative voice. It's clear that he personally has experienced many of the things that happen in the book, from working on a farm to experiencing the death of a community.
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Format: Paperback
Picked this book up off the shelf in my house as we were packing to move. I read it when it first came out about 25 years ago and decided to give it another look and tore through it in a day and a half. I don't know why I didn't appreciate the book for what it is then, but I certainly do now. This is a magnificent portrayal of a way of life that is now lost to us. Unger's descriptive powers are phenomenal; his Dakota plains are every bit as vivid as Hardy's moor. Every character in the book is three dimensional and immediately recognizeable to anyone who has spent time in the American heartland. A beautiful, moving piece of work that should be required reading in every freshman English class. It is that good a piece of American literature. Apparently this book was nominated for a Pulitzer. Why it didn't win is a mystery to me. I'm ordering copies for gifts as soon as I'm done posting this review.
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By JZ Murdock on February 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
Doug was a year ahead of me at university and a great guy as I remember him and we have a common Professor as friend there. He put a lot of work into this book and it shows. Read it, then look around at America, today.
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By sunny on October 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting book about the fall of the family farm. Written with great understanding of the plight the the family farmer.
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