The Land Lies Open was first published in 1949. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. In The Land Lies Open some of the thousands of characters and incidents that made up the panorama of exploration and settlement in the Upper Mississippi Valley are recreated. Although the author is an outstanding professional historian, he writes with the narrative skill of a novelist; his history is never dry and remote, but always vividly alive. Here are the stories of a few of the many thousands who, when the land at last lay open, moved in to people it. From the rich mosaic of their lives Mr. Blegen has set down tales that stir the imagination. Some of the men Mr. Blegen writes about have famous names-Father Louis Hennepin, La Vérendrye, Hernando de Soto, Louis Jolliet-but most of them were jjust plain people unknown to present-day Americans. There are stories of adventurous sons of New France, England, and America who slowly, over a period of more than two centuries, opened to knowledge and usefulness the river channels leading into the great Midwest. The tales set down in The Land Lies Open vary from an exciting buffalo hunt to the story of immigrant farmers who came to the Midwest and patiently coaxed new kinds of fruit and grain to maturity. There are stories of bitter townsite rivalries, of a covered wagon heroine, of the Yankees who moved westward to leave the stamp of New England on the midwestern frontier, and of "pioneers of the second line" who developed new forms of social organization and action as these were needed. Once more, as in Grass Roots History, Mr. Blegen gives eloquent proof that history is not made by spectacular events or the experiences of a few exceptional people, but by all the small, everyday people whose names are unfamiliar.
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