The Prairie in Her Eyes
“My father’s ranch is now a testament to the fact that cattlemen and coyotes can live in peace,” Ann Daum writes. But it wasn’t always so. Reared on her father’s thirty-thousand-acre ranch, Daum grew up to become a rancher herself, raising sport horses. And in The Prairie in Her Eyes, she captures the beauty, despair, rewards, and loneliness of ranching in the modern West.
Daum’s essays rise and fall with the undulations of the prairie and can pack a punch like South Dakota weather. She writes about actual artifacts buried in the prairie soil, as well as of what lies hidden in the lives of people who live there and the “white line” you can never go beneath without drawing blood. Warm memories of her girlhood on the ranch turn cold as she recalls brutalities both casual and calculated—the writhing of a captive coyote, a ranch hand’s predatory sexuality, and the horrors of a chicken research facility.
The Prairie in Her Eyes is the story of why one woman stayed in a place many people would consider uninhabitable, and her determination to achieve a self-reliance that is not intertwined with cruelty and in which dependence on the land does not mean hatred of the wild.
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Praise and Prizes
“Ann Daum knows the violence, capriciousness, and beauty of the West and its people.”
“More than just a personal memoir, this beautifully written book is a story of land, harsh; a story of humans and their devastating failings; and a book of truths and painful revelations. This first book of Ann Daum’s places her as an important and unusual writer to watch.”
“A personal lament for a spiritual location in the distances of South Dakota, made of both wildness and family. It’s also about returning, turning seasons, the sandhill cranes coming back, and hope, reinvention. Ann Daum is a fine storyteller, and to be congratulated for this assured and reassuring book.”
“Ann Daum describes growing up on a South Dakota ranch and her life as a rancher today with great feeling, candor, and an understanding of the challenges of living in the West.”
“Ann Daum brilliantly evokes the excruciating beauty and frustration of ranching life.”
“Earthy and elegant . . . Ann Daum writes from a place where people still get up before dawn, still sweat, still know where their meals and their meat came from.”
“Eloquent . . . Ann Daum reveals the character of the West and the changes it is undergoing.”