Most of us have read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, or perhaps seen the television show, at some point in our lives.
For me, it was back in the fourth grade at Tanglewood Elementary School.
Now, some 15 years later, walking through Barnes in Noble in Saratoga, I stumbled across a book by the title Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane and the Making of the Little House Books. (I know, long title.)
The biographical book, written by Christine Woodside, takes a look behind the scenes of the writing of the Little House books. Woodside sifts through letters and conducts interview to get an idea of the kind of work Wilder had to put in to writing her famous books.
While Woodside splits Libertarians on the Prairie up into multiple parts, it seems to me to split into two main sections.
The first part of the books focuses on the writing of the Little House books and shows just how much of a role Lane, Wilder's daughter, played in the production of the books. As a journalist, Lane had connections to printers that Wilder only could have dreamed of.
Lane also did some heavy editing of her mother's work, fictionalized and sensationalized some stories, and by most accounts was a better writer than the matriarch.
What I see as the second half of the book, focuses on how Lane's heavy role in the Little House books impacted the themes.
Obviously, the Little House books are heavy on pioneering and a mentality of individualism. However, Woodside shows that that may be in large part due to Lane and her personal political leanings.
Lane, who along with novelist Ayn Rand and journalist Isabel Paterson, is considered one of the "Founding Mothers" of the libertarian ideology, made some stories more prominent and others less prominent in the Little House books, and also made references to her own philosophy.
As Woodside puts it, these references aren't intended to brainwash or convert people to Lane's line of thinking, but they are subtly present throughout.
Woodside's book is thoroughly researched and leaves one pondering how the Little House books would be different if Lane didn't have such a hand in her mother's books.
If you're a fan of the Little House book, this one is worth the read.