Book Review: The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber

November 8, 2011


The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber is an award-winning fictional book taking place in the Badlands of South Dakota. The book follows the tough life in that area.

The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book— enter at the end of the post.

  • 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0143119486

Thoughts on: The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber
My rating for The Personal History of Rachel DuPree5
Buy The Personal History of Rachel DuPree from*

More books by Ann Weisgarber*


The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber (website) is a unique work, well written and an excellent first effort by the author.

There are many themes in this book, racism, hardships, pioneering, work ethic and American form of capitalism among others social themes. The story about living in a harsh environment was gripping and compelling. The “Personal History” of a black wife to a South Dakota rancher is fascinating.

The racism aspect of the book, to me, was the more pronounced hardship which Rachel experienced. Not only from the whites in Chicago, but also from the better-off African-Americans as well as some whites in the Badlands, a place where one would think people will stick together. The racism and discrimination towards Native-Americans was also touched in the book and certainly made some sour points on several occasions. The only character in this book who isn’t racist or discriminatory is the harsh land which treats everyone as equals.

For a few years, what seems a lifetime ago, I worked in agriculture. Thinking back it seemed like a fine time – great guys, the smell of the land, hard work, appreciation and a feeling of accomplishment making something grow. However, looking back with a bit more criticism than nostalgia, I remember how difficult it was getting up before the birds, dealing with stinky manure, chemicals and the back breaking labor. This book is not a romanticized version of pioneering, it tells of the difficulties out west, the hard work which can be wiped out in one day with nothing to show for it.
No subsidies.
No insurance.

This book, strong on characters and themes is a worthwhile read and an excellent choice for book clubs – there is much to discuss.


Sixteen year old Chicago resident Rachel Reeves works as a cook and experiences discrimination not only from whites, but from the elite African-Americans as well. However, Rachel is a proud woman who idolizes Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a fearless crusader and anti-lynching activate. When her boss’ son, Isaac, returns from the army Rachel agrees to marry him and move with the ambitious and charismatic man to the Badlands of South Dakota. Isaac and Rachel, taking advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 will get 320 acres of land.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Eight kids and fourteen years later Rachel realizes everyday how the Badlands got their name as she experiences drought, storms, thirst, hunger, loneliness and many other hardships.

Buy The Personal History of Rachel DuPree from*
More books by Ann Weisgarber*


  • Give­away ends: Novem­ber 15, 2011

  • US/Canada Ship­ping Addresses Only

  • Win­ners will have 24 hours to write back with their address, oth­er­wise an alter­nate win­ner will be picked

Congratulations: nfmgirl@

TLC Book Tour for The Personal History of Rachel DuPree:
Tuesday, November 1st: nomadreader
Wednesday, November 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, November 3rd: Linus’s Blanket – author Q&A
Monday, November 7th: A Bookish Libraria
Tuesday, November 8th: Man of La Book
Thursday, November 10th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, November 14th: Book Dilettante
Tuesday, November 15th: Book Chatter
Wednesday, November 16th: She is Too Fond of Books – Spotlight on Bookstores guest post
Thursday, November 17th: Book Club Classics
Friday, November 18th: Historical Tapestry – guest post
Monday, November 21st: Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, November 22nd: The Brain Lair
Wednesday, November 23rd: Broken Teepee
Friday, November 25th: Historical Tapestry
Monday, November 28th: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, November 29th: My Bookshelf
Wednesday, November 30th: Elle Lit.
Thursday, December 1st: Melody & Words
Monday, December 5th: Book Snob
Wednesday, December 7th: Life in Review
Thursday, December 8th: The 3 R’s Blog

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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  • annNovember 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    here is my email – hope I can win

    amhengst at verizon dot net

  • Ann WeisgarberNovember 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you for this terrific review. I’m delighted and appreciate your willingness to read Rachel DuPree. I love your thoughts about the agricultural business. It’s a demanding life and success is often dictated by the weather and by the size of the bank loan.

    Thanks for including the photo of Ida B. Wells Barnett. I came across her name when I was researching Chicago and slaugherhouses. I was so taken by her that I wrote pages and pages about her in an early draft. It was painful when I realized that I’d gone overboard. I cut it down to the book discussion scene with the Circle of Eight ladies.

    • zoharNovember 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks for checking out the review Ann, good luck in your future writing.

  • Leslie @ Tic TocNovember 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Great review as always. I appreciate the time you take to give indepth responses to your feelings and the things that touched you in your reading. Awesome as usual.

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book ToursNovember 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    The life of a farmer is truly difficult – I have no idea how people did it (and did it successfully!) for so many years.

    This sounds like a book I’d really enjoy. Thanks for the great review and for being on the tour!

  • Jennifer, bookspersonallyNovember 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    sounds like an intriguing and unique story! thanks for the review.

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