ISBN is

978-0-8133-3432-5 / 9780813334325

Sixty Miles From Contentment: Traveling The Nineteenth-Century American Interior

by

Publisher:Westview Press

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

In the nineteenth century, the most interesting and exotic place on the face of the earth was the American interiornow the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Travelers came from all over the world to report on and argue about everything they found there: the frenzied eating habits, the obsession with spitting tobacco, the hunting and child-rearing customs, the regions mysterious prehistoric past, the fascinating Indian population, the disappointing tedium of the landscape, and, most bedeviling of all, the odd definition of material comfort.Drawing on the work of more than three hundred travel writersamong them Charles Dickens, Margaret Fuller, Anthony Trollope, and Mark Twainfrom Americas own East Coast and from fourteen other countries, this book offers a witty and irreverent look at the wild Midwest in its heyday.It is an iconoclastic, bottom-up approach to history that shines a startling light on the manners and mores of a society that never ceased to surprise. Attracted by a landscape unlike any they had seen before, travelers found to their dismay that they had to battle swarms of insects, hot and humid summers, and dangerously harsh winters. They were amazed by the primitive condition in which even the wealthiest settlers lived. Huge pigs pushed ladies and gentlemen off sidewalks, and umbrellas were used indoors to catch rain, sleet, and snow that sifted through faulty roofs. Comfort, a matter of central import to these travelers, was always at some place where no one had ever been.No hard pioneers or Sunbonnet Sues, no false elegiac tone, no nostalgia or blurry sentimentality cloud this account. Dismantling the myths propagated by todays Bed and Breakfast tourist literature, Sixty Miles from Contentment is a revitalizationat turns lively, raucous, painful, serious, and often funnyof a pulsating American scene.

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