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One of Ours

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,519 Ratings  ·  462 Reviews
Willa Cather’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of World War I.

The son of a prosperous farmer, Claude Wheeler’s future is laid out for him as clear and monotonous as the Nebraska sky—a few semesters at the local Christian college followed by marriage and a lifetime spent worrying about the price of wheat. Many young men would be happy to find themselves in Claude’s shoes, but
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Paperback, First Vintage Classics Edition, 371 pages
Published February 9th 1991 by Vintage Classics (first published 1922)
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John Freeman I was surprised too that she won for that and not her Great Plains trilogy. Almost as surprised as when I found out that Edna Ferber won for "So Big"…moreI was surprised too that she won for that and not her Great Plains trilogy. Almost as surprised as when I found out that Edna Ferber won for "So Big" when her other books, "Show Boat" or "Cimarron" were clearly better...in my opinion.(less)

Community Reviews

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Duane
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1923. Claude Wheeler is a young man with, seemingly, everything. Well respected parents who own a good Nebraska farm that will someday belong to Claude, and he has a new wife. But Claude has bigger dreams that can't be fulfilled in this setting. His parent's are indifferent to his dreams, and his wife is only interested in her church and mission work. Then World War I comes along, and Claude sees this as his opportunity to do something meaningful with ...more
Cheryl
"Ruin and new birth; the shudder of ugly things in the past, the trembling image of beautiful ones on the horizon; finding and losing; that was life, he saw." A mother's love for a distressed son. A son's love for his emotionally-abused and pious mother. A young man pondering life and what it has to offer. A war that has to be fought. A protagonist who feels the pull of duty to a war that summons American lives. If this is not a book about the inner turmoils of war and one's psychological batt ...more
Whitney Atkinson
I'm crying as I write this review??? And it was a book for class????

This book is set during World War I, but the first half of this book talks about the main character's life at home and how he feels discontent with working on the farm and discontent with the marriage he fell into and discontent with living a life that was meaningless. I thought his inner struggle was so compelling and even somewhat relatable, and I adored his personality as well.

The latter half of this book is when he is deploy
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Sparrow
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Derrick Jensen
Recommended to Sparrow by: 1932 Pulitzer
Leave it to Willa Cather to write the most peaceful book about war I have ever read. One of Ours is not my favorite story about World War I or my favorite Cather, but it is truly beautiful. Cather's description of the destruction caused by war and America's participation in global economy is fascinating, and I was surprised to find a perspective that I think of as common in post-Vietnam writing in a book published before the Great Depression.

One of the characteristics I love most about Cather as
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Scott Axsom
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Ours is another in a long line of beautiful works by Willa Cather, and the one she won a Pulitzer for. If you’re a Cather fan already, well, you’re used to her stories generally going not much of any place in particular. If you’re new to her work, prepare for a languorous, yet profound, journey through the lives of remarkably ordinary people. One of Ours hews to her style of magnificently in-depth characterizations and elegiac descriptions of the early twentieth century American Midwest.

T
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Jon
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Claude Wheeler, a college-age farmer's son in Nebraska, just before and during World War I. I try to put my finger on what is so appealing about Cather's prose, besides the sensitive and subtle presentation of her characters and her vivid descriptions of the physical world. I guess it's her non-judgmental choice of words--she presents some pretty repellent characters, but she never describes them in a way to prejudice the reader; she lets other characters be repelled by them. What s ...more
Sara
3.5 stars, rounded up.

The first half of this novel is Willa Cather in her element. She knows the plains and its people, and as long as Claude was on the farm and in his small town, I found each word true and compelling. The second half of the novel, which takes place in France during WWI, does not ring as true and loses its grip on the characters somewhat. The horrors of the trenches of WWI are well-known and any idea that a man could feel happy to be there seems far-fetched. Happy to go, yes, h
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Sketchbook
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Who's the GREAT American writer ? Not Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wharton, Faulkner. Here she is : Willa Cather.
Ensiform
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, war
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this is the story of Claude Wheeler, an American farm boy who grows to manhood convinced that there is something more “splendid about life” than the quotidian existence he sees around him, that will be his future. Frustrated at his inability to attend anything but a small religious college, and entranced by glimpses of a more daring family who engage in intellectual debate and love the arts, he gets married but finds that his wife, too, lives only for Christian miss ...more
Susan
I have always enjoyed stories about how people lived years ago, and this one certainly didn't disappoint me, giving a great insight into not only the everyday practicalities of living at this time, but also looking closely at the characters themselves, thier hopes, fears and personalities.
I've read many books about The First World War, but never from the perspective of American Servicemen travelling so far to fight a war which must have seemed so remote and distant, especially when you consider
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☕Laura
I loved the beginning of this book, then felt sort of bogged down in the middle, but was again very engaged at the end. I almost gave this book 3 stars because of the middle, but the parts of it that were beautiful were so beautiful that I think it deserves 4. One of my favorite passages was "Most of the boys who fell in this war were unknown, even to themselves. They were too young. They died and took their secret with them -- what they were and what they might have been", but there were many b ...more
Nathan
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Nebraska half of the novel is good. I just couldn't get behind what Cather had to say about the experience of war once Claude goes to France. I have no doubt that many, many wonderful people find a home and a meaningful life in the military. I just struggle with the message that World War I trench combat made anyone's life whole. I've never been a soldier and I've never been in a war, but I've read the stories of many talented writers who've lived that experience and this story didn't ring t ...more
Katy
Worthy of the Pulitzer. Wonderful writing that brings the reader to Nebraska and then France during WWI. A sad and touching coming of age story.
Christopher Sutch
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fine novel is deceptively easy to read, but I think was Cather's most complex and significant work up to the time of its publication (1922; won the Pulitzer Prize). Rather than stating explicitly where the novel is going or, when the narrative finally moves toward its climax, the links with the events that happened earlier), Cather's style becomes here much more high modernist (without the technical stylings of Faulkner or Hemingway, both concerned at times with similar subject matter): sur ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
1923 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.[return][return]I ve lived in Nebraska and know well the rolling landscape, the hard-working but easy-going people who farm and ranch the land there. Willa Cather s prose, as far as I m concerned, reflects perfectly their characters. That is the first impression that a reader takes away from One of Ours. And its protagonist, Claude Wheeler, reminds me of young people I ve met there, who love their state and their families, but somehow don t quite fit ...more
Shawn
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Ours - Willa Cather was given the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1923, although, in my humble opinion, it is not her best work. The story follows Claude Wheeler, a thoughtful yet inexplicably restless son of a Nebraska farmer, through his early adulthood and into the trenches of World War One. The book is unique among Cather’s works as it was considered by her contemporaries as a “war novel”. Claude is a second generation Nebraska and, as such, he comes of age twenty or twenty-five years ...more
Angie
I've read My Antonia, O Pioneers, and Neighbor Rosicky. I mistakenly thought that what I loved so much about Cather are her prairie/pioneer/struggling to make a living off the earth/work ethic themes. I've long avoided reading One of Ours, because I feared the WWI setting would lull me to sleep. The truth is, Willa Cather could write banking manuals and make me fall in love with the characters. She's just a truly great writer. I so enjoyed this story. I love stories, and Willa Cather is one of f ...more
Ann
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing to discover a Cather work written in 1922 and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 - over 90 years ago - and have it thoroughly embrace you as though it were recently written. I was totally drawn in. Felt it was as much the story of a young man's growing up and early adult years in Nebraska, as it was a tale of the Great War, World War I. Loved it. Recommend.
Rachel
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, Willa Cather did not want this book to “be classed as a war story,” and after reading it, that makes a lot of sense to me.

Yes, Hemingway et al. did get their manties in a twist about how feeble the (surprisingly scanty) war parts were, but really, boys, that would seem to be missing the point. I mean, it’s right there in the title. No All Quiet on the Western Front for Cather; it’s One of Ours, and I read the “Ours” as we good old US of A-ers and the “One” as our hero, Claude Whee
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Daniel Villines
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of our Ours seems to be perceived as just another World War I novel but the truth is that the war is one of many settings in this novel that are used by Cather to tell a humanistic story. The book brings to life the beliefs of humans, the realities formed out of these beliefs, and their consequences. Specifically, she focuses on the people of small towns in rural America and one young adult who is in search of who he should become while living in a sea of strong-minded family and friends. Wh ...more
Karen Hagerman
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't possibly give Willa Cather anything less than 5 stars, although this wasn't my absolute favorite of hers. The first half, which takes place on the prairies and farms of Nebraska, is achingly beautiful and the main character, Claude Wheeler, will stay with me for a long time. I so sympathized with his general frustration - his desire to make more of himself, his disappointment in his frigid but efficient wife, his distaste for his father and his deep but unstated love for his mother. I co ...more
Ron
Pulitzer Prize winner or not, I almost quit during the first fifty pages. The opening is a dreadful bore. By modern standards, Cather commits almost every storytelling gaff. Even by 1922 standards, she should have compressed the first half of her story into half the space.

The story really begins when the Great War intrudes on the life of rural America. The protagonist breaks his provincial shell and enters the greater world. His life--and the story--begins as he sails past the Statue of Liberty
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Tracy
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Willa Cather, and each new book or story I read of hers just solidifies that opinion. I understood Claude so completely and, though I was frustrated with him at times, I also felt like he spoke my own thoughts and reflected the side of me that is too often discontented. It's not the "me" I show to the public, but too frequently it's the "me" inside.

And when, very late in the novel, I read this passage, I was so proud of him. I truly felt as though I'd watched him mature and become a man.

"
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Bookslut
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
I don't like the way Willa Cather writes--it is such pared-down, understated prose that it doesn't sit easily on my brain. Nonetheless, this book really touched me. My critique is that the two parts of the novel do not relate well to each other. The first part is an in-depth character study, almost painfully slow, and the second is a fast, plot-heavy war story. The character study she's set up so carefully is almost lost, rather than developed, in the war portion. It's kind of a shame, since the ...more
Devyn Duffy
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Willa Cather deserves a nomination as the greatest American author.

For some reason, One of Ours doesn't seem to move many people, but I found it to be a wonderfully written story of a young man who can't seem to figure out how to live. The characters seem real, as they do in all of Cather's work, and Cather is one of the few authors I know of who can describe scenes in vivid detail without being boring.

I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it. You probably already know, howe
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Carol Douglas
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people who read Willa Cather's books like My Antonia and Death Comes to the Archbishop don't know that she wrote a book about World War I, One of Ours, or that that book won the Pulitzer Prize. I finally read the book and like it as well as anything else she wrote.
One of Ours is the story of a Nebraska farm boy who is by far the brightest in his family but whose attempts to expand intellectually are shot down again and again.
Cather describes Nebraska, and indeed every place, wonderfully
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Christopher
I'm afraid my experience with this book suffered a bit from what I've dubbed the Book Prize Oopsy Syndrome, wherein, according to this article, "winning a prestigious prize in the literary world seems to go hand-in-hand with a particularly sharp reduction in ratings of perceived quality". This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and for me that's one of the best prizes a book can win. So I expected genius, and what I got was a good book. Just not genius.

But I am very interested to read more Will
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Cindy
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a book you read and keep thinking about it. Willa Cather's descriptions pull you into prairie life and war. This book is a sad reminder that sometimes war is a headline in a newspaper or a game that kids play. Not many people think about the destruction of people and countries. Those that fight the war and come home, sometimes do not do so well. I always think of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Marilyn
As I was reading this book, I was reminded of reading somewhere that Atticus Finch was the most perfect character created in American fiction. I suppose that could be contested, but I found myself thinking, "Claud Wheeler is the most perfect character ever created." This story of redemption is almost without fault. Poetic. Real. I truly truly loved it. A well-deserved Pulitzer.
Dusty
Okay, I will not beat around the bush: I did not like this novel. This despite the fact that I find Willa Cather an interesting literary figure and was looking forward to reading it.

I have lots of complaints. Here are the first two that come to mind:

First, it drags. I don't just mean that the scenes and descriptions are elaborate; I mean that whole chunks of the novel drone on and on without any apparent reason. The title makes it pretty clear that the main character, Claude Wheeler, is going to
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Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley (Gore), Virginia, in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writin ...more
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“Life was so short that it meant nothing at all unless it were continually reinforced by something that endured; unless the shadows of individual existence came and went against a background that held together.” 9 likes
“Women ought to be religious; faith was the natural fragrance of their minds. The more incredible the things they believed, the more lovely was the act of belief. To him the story of "Paradise Lost" was as mythical as the "Odyssey"; yet when his mother read it aloud to him, it was not only beautiful but true. A woman who didn't have holy thoughts about mysterious things far away would be prosaic and commonplace, like a man.” 8 likes
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