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One of Ours Paperback – March 1, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''The thing about Willa Cather's landscape and figures is that not only were they born alive but remain so after six decades.'' --Guardian (London)

''An astonishing power to touch an elegiac note right on the nerve without sentimentality.'' --Marina Warner, British writer, historian, and mythographer --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Inside Flap

Willa Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative of the making of a young American soldier
Claude Wheeler, the sensitive, aspiring protagonist of this beautifully modulated novel, resembles the youngest son of a peculiarly American fairy tale. His fortune is ready-made for him, but he refuses to settle for it. Alienated from his crass father and pious mother, all but rejected by a wife who reserves her ardor for missionary work, and dissatisfied with farming, Claude is an idealist without an ideal to cling to. It is only when his country enters the First World War that Claude finds what he has been searching for all his life.
In One of Ours Willa Cather explores the destiny of a grandchild of the pioneers, a young Nebraskan whose yearnings impel him toward a frontier bloodier and more distant than the one that vanished before his birth. In doing so, she creates a canny and extraordinarily vital portrait of an American psyche at once skeptical and romantic, restless and heroic. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Aegypan (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603125078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603125079
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,194,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For understandable reasons, "One of Ours" is perhaps Willa Cather's most underrated novel. Published in 1922, only four years after the end of the First World War, it is widely regarded as Cather's "war novel" and, although she visited Europe to research the battle scenes, she admitted the difficulty of writing such a novel when she had no direct personal experience of war itself. Judged simply as a war novel, then, it is certainly lacking in many respects; one won't find realist depictions of military action here. In addition, criticism that she glorified the war and its sacrifices has haunted the book since its publication.

But "One of Ours" is instead a eulogy for her cousin who served as an officer at the Western front. Only very small portions of the book actually occur during battle, and those that do are less about fighting than about a Nebraska boy who finds himself away from home, billeting with a French family and becoming friends with a fellow officer. Like some of her other works, "One of Ours" is a perceptive character sketch of a Midwestern youth struggling to escape the confinement of life on the farm.

The opening chapters follow Claude Wheeler from boyhood to an abortive college career, interrupted when his father insists that he leave school to work on the farm. One of the more absorbing sections describes his informal adoption by members of the Ehrlich family, who host a faux-bohemian parlor for their college-age friends and introduce Claude to Lincoln's social giddiness, intellectual intensity, and cultural pleasures: "He had never heard a family talk so much, or with anything like so much zest." After he returns home, his life begins a less satisfactory course, first by marrying an impossible woman and then by "escaping" to the war in Europe.
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Format: Paperback
...,but I can make a great city of a small state". Themistocles once said these words that might have been lifted from the thoughts of Claude Wheeler, the central character in Cather's Pulitzer winning novel. Claude is out of place in rural Nebraska, the initial setting of the novel. Only on the battlefields of WWI does he finally come in to his own.

Having read the critical comments of others, I sympathize with some of thier views. Cather did perhaps overreach in this novel. And certainly other of her works deserve more attention (Song of the Lark, My Antonia, Oh Pioneers). But for those of us who would read the technical specs for the muffler of a 73' Pinto if Cather had written them, this book is pure pleasure. Frankly, I can't imagine any of her books deserving less than 5 stars.

I also take exception to comments regarding the weakness of the final chapters. I found Cather's musings on fighting for a cause incredibly stirring. They offered resolution to the soul searching and final triumph of Claude. The epic scope of this story transcends the mere trials of finding oneself and speak to what it means to be human. No mere "fiddling" indeed.
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Format: Paperback
I am not certain that Willa Cather wrote anything that was not worth reading, but I do think this is the weakest of the ten or so of her works that I have read. If you have read and enjoyed her other books, by all means read it. If you haven't read her at all, I would recommend instead DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP, THE PROFESSOR'S HOUSE, or SHADOWS ON THE ROCK, or her prairie books MY ANTONIA or O PIONEERS. This book is a decent book by a great writer.
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Format: Paperback
This novel represents the heroic struggle of one individual against farming, social ambition, marriage and war.
Although strong and capable, farming is the worst profession imaginable for this red headed hero. Willa Cather shows every respect for the hard honest life of a Nebraskan farmer, but Claude makes a hard honest fiasco of the farming life. This book is the story of a soul. A strong daring soul that needs to wrestle something bigger than itself (even if it loses). Claude begins by trying to manage his father's farm. When he spends a few years at college, he is shown the world of social ambition, but neither of these experiences set his life on the right path. If you are interested in the dynamics of male/female relationships, Claude's marriage provides plenty of food for thought. Willa Cather chose a very interesting backdrop for her hero when she describes the home front of these two very black sheep.
This book may be the most realistic description of middle-west sentiment during the first world war. It describes the emotions of Americans who volunteered to fight for people they had only met via the black and white media of newspapers. The war becomes a sort of crusade, and Claude feels compelled to answer the call. Willa Cather gives a wise description of the issues, and even expresses the sentiments of honest German farmers in Nebraska. Claude's best friend is from the Bohemian old country, and doesn't quite agree with Claude's choices.
This book has received quite a few reserved reviews. I recommend this book without reservations.
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Format: Paperback
This is my first Willa Cather book and I was very impressed with her descriptions of the Nebraska lifestyle. Claude was a cornered and ho-hum young man forever destined to live the life others expected of him. Then the war gave new meaning to his life and seemingly a direction. His wife reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara in many ways--her selfishness and use of other people. I was glad to see her go to China so Claude could breathe. The depiction of the trench war was so vivid and was the most exciting part of the book for me. The relationships formed among the soldiers was what life really is about, and Claude finally found significance in his. A purpose! I intend to read more Cather.
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