Author Jonathan Raban's opening chapter eloquently drew me into semi-arid Eastern Montana. The book chronicles how just after the turn of the century the promise of free land from the government and deceptive publicity campaigns drew in emigrants. Their stories are amazing, how they grew into communities. The book honestly tells their stories of hardship, weather and ultimately failure. Through out the book Raban weaves is own personal accounts with the surviving family members. He is an outsider compassionately telling their story.