Great Plains Book of the Month

Each month the Center for Great Plains Studies features one book as its "Great Plains Book of the Month." We carefully choose books that are accessible and on topics of interest and importance for our region. They may be on any subject, of any genre, published within the last couple of years; occasionally we may feature a book published by or written at the Center. Mainly we want to bring attention to what we consider exceptional works both to learn from and enjoy.


February Book of the Month

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree

By Ann Weisgarber

Details: African-American Literature, History

Publisher: Viking, 2010 

This novel tells the story of Rachel and Isaac DuPree, African American homesteaders staking their claim in the South Dakota Badlands at the beginning of the 20th century. Told from Rachel’s point of view, we hear how she meets Isaac, a former Buffalo Soldier, while working in a Chicago boardinghouse, and how as newlyweds they try to raise cattle in that unforgiving land during times of terrible drought. Their life involves not only family conflict but also the region’s complex racial dynamics—among Black, white, and Indian residents. Rachel is an inspiring heroine, and Weisgarber’s tale adds a new dimension to the literature of the homesteading frontier. Oscar and Tony Award winner Viola Davis will produce the film version of this engaging narrative of Black life on the Great Plains.

“Compelling historical fiction at its best, with appeal factors similar to Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain or Breena Clark's Stand the Storm.”

— Library Journal, 2010

Personal History of Rachel DuPree

Past Great Plains Books of the Month:

American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains, Dan Flores (Jan. 2017)

A Chorus of Cranes: The Cranes of North America and the World, Paul Johnsgard (Feb. 2017)

Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930, Karen Hansen (March 2017)

Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-Footed Ferret, David Jachowski (April 2017)

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor, Joe Starita (May 2017)

Natives of a Dry Place: Stories of Dakota Before the Oil Boom, Richard Edwards (June 2017)

Towards a Prairie Atonement, Trevor Herriot (July 2017)

Walking the Llano, Shelley Armitage (August 2017)

Barnstorming the Prairie, Jason Weems (September 2017)

Homesteading the PlainsRichard Edwards, Rebecca Wingo, Jacob Friefeld (October 2017)

Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology 1867-2017, Edited by Daniel Simon (November 2017)

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm, Ted Genoways (December 2017)

Grasses of the Great Plains, By James Stubbendieck, Stephan L. Hatch, Cheryl D. Dunn