Book Review: Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era

Western heroes

I don't thinks it's too often that you'll come across a book that delivers just what it says it will. John Campbell has achieved this perfectly with his first class text and photos. As a work by a professional archaeologist this could have been the predictable dry words and dull photos that would nevertheless have been subject accurate but fortunately the wonderful images with their complete captions work so well.

Campbell makes the story of the seven million Homesteaders really come alive in the first four chapters. The following seventy photos (in 175 screen) reinforce many of the points with detailed captions and nicely these include a touch of humor here and there. The photos show dilapidated houses, barns and other buildings, household and agricultural implements, rusting farm machinery and vehicles. So many of the exterior shots show buildings just sitting on the empty Plains which to the Homesteaders must have seemed a daunting environment, not only to work but also to bring a family up in.

I think this is a wonderful book of an overlooked part of American history and the only thing that could have made it better for me would be a really classy art paper and finer screen to reproduce these remarkable photos.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 12
Title spread.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 01
Loading shoot, Yakima County, Washington.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 02
Windmill, Harding County, New Mexico.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 03
1927 'Farmall' tractor which sold for $1200 and had a lot more pulling power than a four horse team.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 04
Grocery store and Post Office, 1907, in Hassell, Quay County, New Mexico.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 05
Grinding wheel, Morrow County, Oregon.

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Homestead farmyard, Crook County, Wyoming.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 07
The sudden end of a Northern Pacific branch line, Park County, Montana.

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Hotel, Duran, New Mexico.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 09
Privy, Gallatin County, Montana.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 10
Bethany Church, Divide County, North Dakota.

Magnificent Failure: A Portrait of the Western Homestead Era - 11
Inside a barn, Park County, Montana.

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