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Small-Town Dreams


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About the Author

John E. Miller's many books include Governor Philip F. La Follette, the Wisconsin Progressives, and the New Deal; Looking for History on Highway 14, and, also from Kansas, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town: Where History and Literature Meet.


This book represents a new and imaginative reconception of the American experience. . . . Especially noteworthy is the emphasis on material culture.--David M. Katzman, author of Seven Days a Week: Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing AmericaSmall towns are an important part of Americana, not only because 30 million people live in them, but also because we hear so often that they are the 'real America' where homespun virtue still prevails. Miller's book unpacks that mythology, showing its manifestations in the lives of small town boys who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made good. I look forward to a sequel about small town girls!--Robert Wuthnow, author of Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the FutureIn Small-Town Dreams John Miller ably illustrates the importance of small towns in American history and culture through a gallery of portraits of prominent figures born and raised in them--all going to show you can take the boy out of the town but not the town out of the boy.--Richard Lingeman, Senior Editor of The Nation and author of Small Town America and biographies of Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair LewisThis valuable and superbly written study of midwestern farm and small-town boyhoods and subsequent careers will captivate hosts of readers. The smell of corn and hogs, the sounds and silences of hamlets and county seats, and schoolyard athletics, classroom instruction, and theatrical presentation--all redolently here. A first-rate regional study.--Richard W. Etulain, author of Re-imagining the Modern American West: A Century of Fiction, History, and Art
This book would make an excellent addition to collections that focus on region and boyhood, as well as to collections with an emphasis on twentieth-century American culture.--Great Plains QuarterlyMiller has crafted an expertly researched, well-written, and scholarly volume of biographies of twenty-two individuals whose formative years were in the Midwest--Journal of Illinois HistoryThe stories are well told and engagingly written, and the notion of exploring the connection between America's small-town past and its urban present is well worthwhile.--Michigan Historical ReviewA deeply-researched and brilliantly-conceived account of the small town experiences of a series of Midwesterners whose names many over-50 readers will instantly recall.--Claremont Review of Books[Miller] shows both the cultural shifts that have changed the Midwest (and along with it, the nation) and the persistent, shaping power of place on individuals and the national consciousness.--Minnesota HistoryThe essays are well researched, detailed, and strongly written to create a clear sense of the effect that this peculiar sort of American place had on a given man.--Annals of IowaIn a wonderfully readable compilation of distinguished biographies. . . Miller documents the shifts that emptied Main Street throughout the Midwest, . . . [with] the stories of men whose childhoods were spent in the small towns all of them left behind, but some of them never left spiritually. Miller's Small-Town Dreams is a museum of big men from small towns.--Books and Culture

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