Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $25.99
  • Save: $5.73 (22%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Ghost Dances: Proving Up ... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains Hardcover – August 21, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$20.26
$0.56 $0.01

Popular & highly-rated in Biographies & Memoirs
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
$20.26 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover


Editorial Reviews

Review

With Ghost Dances, Josh Garrett-Davis bursts on the literary scene like a fresh, punk-voiced Wallace Stegner, weaving the story of his own coming of age into the tangled history of the Great Plains. A familiar prairie past of sod houses and populists lives here alongside a modern landscape of broken families and alienated teenagers, Christian fundamentalists and Indian activists. Histories of failure and destruction weigh down the present and mute the possibilities for the future. But the Great Plains emerge here as a place of terrible beauty, explosive possibilities, and that most American of emotions - hope.―Martha A. Sandweiss, author of Passing Strange

Ghost Dances is beautifully open-spirited. Its ambition never steps on its sense of humor. Garrett-Davis reads his own life as an extension of a landscape that both nurtured and tried to stunt it. What I liked best was how he let the edges mingle: you weren't always sure if the book was about him or about the Plains, and neither was he. Here is a writer whose mind can intrigue us, and a first book that makes it fun to imagine what he might do.―John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead

"A meditation on home and homelessness, Ghost Dances combines memoir, history, and vision into an evocative chronicle in the ocean of grass where Josh Garrett-Davis came of age amid loss, love, and the rituals of hope. A unique and moving book."―Brenda Wineapple, author of White Heat

"Alienation and authenticity commingle in this memoiristic meditation on American's lonesome midsection....Garrett-Davis writes evocatively of "the latent fury in this monotonous [Plains] landscape" and finds some juicy tufts of lore to graze on."―Publishers Weekly

"Josh Garrett-Davis has given us a tremendous memoir-as much a narrative about himself as the cradle of the Plains where he was born. He shows us that "proving up" often means letting go, and we meet all the noble, flawed, and resilient actors of the Plains here, including bison, punk rockers, Cather, Indians, Anglo homesteaders, and home wreckers, too. A wonderful read."

David Treuer, author of Rez Life

About the Author

Josh Garrett-Davis has an MFA from Columbia and is currently a PhD student in American history at Princeton.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316199842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316199841
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,679,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's not every day that I will pick up and buy a nonfiction book by an author I've never read before. But here's what bowled me over about this one; the historical and heavily researched aspects were incorporated organically, naturally -- so seamlessly that they served the story and moved it forward. Consider the bison that rumbles through the opening passage, and starts off the book with a narrative bang. Then consider the way Mr. Davis toggles back and forth between vulnerable memoir, field observation and historical observations. In lesser hands, those researched materials can come across as dry and stilted, like PowerPoint presentations. But Mr. Davis has taken the time to incorporate these elements gracefully so the reader just goes along for the ride. The Midwest -- denigrated for so many years as a 'fly-over' area -- deserves its due, and this year, there is a teetering pile of worthy books focusing on this neglected region. This book belongs at the top of the heap.
Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a child of the plains, I approached this book with very high expectations. The story of the First Nations has been updated recently in several best selling volumes. This one is a good introduction to the issues through personal experiences, interspersed with history. Perhaps someone new to the discussion would find it a good beginning point. I was disappointed as the focus shifted to the author and away from the people whose cultural survival and revival is one shining chapter in our cultural history. However, as a person who grew up between Sioux and Ojibway peoples, I recognize the author's mixed feelings of awe, respect, belonging and exclusion. Worthy of a read.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Garrett-Davis weaves his own story of growing up in South Dakota with that of some of his ancestors, inserting key moments from Great Plains history where he sees fit. The moments he chooses are ones where some experience of his own (e.g., his parents' divorce and his mother's lesbianism, his involvement in the punk rock scene, his political activism) bear some structural or metaphorical resemblance to some defining moment in South Dakota history (e.g., the Wounded Knee massacre, the fate of the American bison, the fight over a T. rex skeleton recovered on reservation land). Some of his metaphors and associations are belabored or over-reaching, but for the most part Garrett-Davis is earnest and sincere. If some of the sections on his ancestors drag, his recount of his own life is marked by affective introspection. In general, his attempt to reconcile his conflicted relationship with the Plains and the Plains' history of conflict and contradiction yields many insights. Readers of his generation (he is in his early 30s) in particular will find much to identify with here -- notably the music of the 80s and 90s. And all but the most widely-read students of the West will probably learn a lot of history. A rewarding read.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
As I read the other reviews, John B.'s review comes closest to pegging what's not quite right with this book, but didn't quite hit the nail on the head. So here goes, in my opinion:

This is not a book about the Plains, or at least, it is only tangentially. It's a memoir, but it's a memoir by a young man who hasn't done anything worth writing (or reading) a memoir about yet. He tries to tie themes in his own unsettled life and broken home to a larger American pioneering motif, but does not succeed. Even in places where he communicates interesting factoids about the Great Plains, he does so in a manner which leads the reader to believe that he has read them in a book himself, rather than feeling or living them. (There are even footnotes.) He does not succeed in making a coherent connection between his unsettled childhood and the settling of the American high prairie. His data about the Ghost Dance movement is sparse and superficial. It's a bait and switch - I hoped for an American saga and what I got was a young man with no particular claim to fame, writing about his rough childhood and trying in vain to make a link to one of my favorite themes in American history solely due to the fact that he grew up in South Dakota.

John B. is correct in pointing out that William Least-Heat Moon's PrairyErth is a much better book. So is anything by Wallace Stegner, or Bernard DeVoto. Or any of the fiction of Ivan Doig - oh, reader, lose yourself in the Scotch Heaven books of Doig for a feel of the aching beauty and heartbreak of the West. But don't bother with this book. Wait until the author has at least accomplished something worth writing about besides growing up as one more young Millennial with divorced parents and adolescent social problems. And if you want to learn about the West, the bison, the Lakota, or the Ghost Dance, there are far better books out there than this one.
2 Comments 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is a personal memoir, a thoughtful chronicle of the author's life so far. It's also a book in which the writing is so good, it could be about geology or oranges and I'd be thrilled. So if you like really good prose, just accept the subject matter and roll with it. Where else will you read about Plains history and people, such as Willa Cather, from a punk point of view?

By the end of Part One, you'll be sated yet wanting more. And as one reviewer here suggests, you'll be wondering if and how the author ever finds his center. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't, but then his story isn't over.

I'd recommend this and PrairyErth in the same breath. Probably not to read in tandem, though.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains