Published by Metropolitan Books, November 21, 2017


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Prairie Fires wins the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography

At a ceremony in New York on March 15, Prairie Fires won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. Describing the work as “a captivating biography,” NBCC board member Elizabeth Taylor declared, “Laura Ingalls Wilder endures, and now future generations can read Fraser’s marvelous biography and understand her vision of how Ingalls dreams of  the frontier.  Caroline Fraser has brilliantly recast our understanding of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life and times, and affirmed her influence in shaping the myth of the iconic West.”

And on March 27, the Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard announced that Prairie Fires was the finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize for a book “that best combines intellectual distinction with felicity of expression.”

The citation read: “Extensively researched, PRAIRIE FIRES reflects Fraser’s deep knowledge of westward expansion, and captures the full arc of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life in three acts: poverty, struggle, and reinvention. Fraser illuminates how Wilder’s wildly popular ‘Little House’ series was a ‘profound act of American myth-making and self-transformation’ by a woman who had reimagined her frontier life as epic and uplifting, with disappointment and loss transformed into parable.  Fraser keys into the vexed relationship between Wilder and her daughter, Rose, a profligate tabloid journalist prone to dramatic mood swings, and locates a dark libertarian strain running through the family. This biography considers a cultural touchstone–‘Little House on the Prairie’–and magnificently places it in the American experience and imagination.”


The New York Times names prairie fires one of The 10 Best Books of 2017

"Exhaustively researched and passionately written, this book refreshes and revitalizes our understanding of Western American history, giving space to the stories of Native Americans displaced from the tribal lands by white settlers like the Ingalls family as well as to the travails of homesteaders, farmers and everyone else who rushed to the West to extract its often elusive riches... [Prairie Fires] offers a remarkably wide-angle view of how national myths are shaped."

Prairie Fires honored as one of the Books of the Year by the Sunday Times (U.K.)

☞ "This very adult look at the bestselling children’s books swings effortlessly from global to local, blending Wilder’s story of 'poverty, struggle and reinvention' with larger swathes of history. Fraser’s gripping account is much more than a biography. Hugely recommended, even if you haven’t read Wilder."

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PLUS: The Library of America interviews Prairie Fires biographer Caroline Fraser on “the deep and unresolved tensions” in the Little House books.

“Little House on the Prairie and the Truth About the American West” — Prairie Fires is reviewed by historian Patricia Nelson Limerick on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and listed by the Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2017.

Listen to author Caroline Fraser interviewed on “The New York Times Book Review Podcast."

☞ Prairie Fires is named one of the Best Biographies of 2017 by Amazon Books, and Amazon editorial director Sarah Harrison Smith discusses the biography's new discoveries about the life and work of Laura Ingalls Wilder with author Caroline Fraser.

☞ Check out upcoming author appearances in Minneapolis, Chicago, Iowa City, Kansas City, Santa Fe, and more....

☞ Read Caroline Fraser on “Laura Ingalls Wilder and American Farming” at

☞  BookPage interviews the author of the “endlessly fascinating” Prairie Fires.

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“A magisterial biography, which surely must be called definitive... A compelling, beautifully written story… But it is its marriage of biography and history―the latter providing such a rich context for the life―that is one of the great strengths of this indispensable book.”

Booklist (starred review)

☞ NPR praises Prairie Fires in its tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder at 150

☞ Prairie Fires ("thoroughly researched... a fascinating read") is chosen by LibraryReads as one of the top ten books that librarians love published in November 2017



“Engrossing… Exhilarating… Lovers of the series will delight in learning about real-life counterparts to classic fictional episodes, but, as Fraser emphasizes, the true story was often much harsher. Meticulously tracing the Ingalls and Wilder families’ experiences through public records and private documents, Fraser discovers failed farm ventures and constant money problems, as well as natural disasters even more terrifying and devastating in real life than in Wilder’s writing. She also helpfully puts Wilder’s narrow world into larger historical context.”
Publishers Weekly

Caroline Fraser    is the editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and the author of   Rewilding the World   and   God’s Perfect Child  . Her writing has appeared in   The New York Review of Books  ,   The New Yorker  ,   The Atlantic  , the   Los Angeles Times  , and the   London Review of Books  , among other publications. She lives in New Mexico.

Caroline Fraser is the editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and the author of Rewilding the World and God’s Perfect Child. Her writing has appeared in The New York Review of BooksThe New YorkerThe Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and the London Review of Books, among other publications. She lives in New Mexico.

☞ Now available from Fleet, a new literary imprint of the Little Brown Book Group: the UK edition of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hear   a sample from the audiobook edition   of  Prairie Fires , read by Christina Moore for Recorded Books

Hear a sample from the audiobook edition of Prairie Fires, read by Christina Moore for Recorded Books


Why the Little House books are enjoyed by both children and adult readers: Caroline Fraser talks about Laura Ingalls Wilder with The Library of America. Also, read an excerpt from Prairie Fires.