Prairie Fever by Peter Pagnamenta
British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890

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Readers may, nevertheless, feel a sneaking admiration for Pagnamenta’s crew of intrepid — if arguably somewhat inconsequential — gentlemen ­adventurers.
-NY Times

Synopsis

“A deeply researched and finely delivered look at what can best be described as a counterintuitive slice of American history.”—Washington Post


From the 1830s onward, a succession of well-born Britons headed west to the great American wilderness to find adventure and fulfillment. They brought their dogs, sporting guns, valets, and all the attitudes and prejudices of their class. Prairie Fever explores why the West had such a strong romantic appeal for them at a time when their inherited wealth and passion for sport had no American equivalent.


In fascinating and often comic detail, the author shows how the British behaved—and what the fur traders, hunting guides, and ordinary Americans made of them—as they crossed the country to see the Indians, hunt buffalo, and eventually build cattle empires and buy up vast tracts of the West. But as British blue bloods became American landowners, they found themselves attacked and reviled as “land vultures” and accused of attempting a new colonization. In a final denouement, Congress moved against the foreigners and passed a law to stop them from buying land.

 

About Peter Pagnamenta

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Peter Pagnamenta is a writer and social historian who lives in London. He is the author of Sword and Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman. He lives in London.
 
Published June 18, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 379 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Prairie Fever
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Miranda Seymour on Jun 29 2012

Readers may, nevertheless, feel a sneaking admiration for Pagnamenta’s crew of intrepid — if arguably somewhat inconsequential — gentlemen ­adventurers.

Read Full Review of Prairie Fever: British Aristo... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Judith Flanders on Jun 28 2012

Mr. Pagnamenta tells this story with verve and style. His love of tales of derring-do on the prairie matches his subjects', even as his exploration of the travelers' successes and failures (mostly the latter) are models of sympathetic objectivity.

Read Full Review of Prairie Fever: British Aristo... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for Prairie Fever
70%

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