Who needs a welfare state?
- The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Library of America, 1490 pp, £56.50, August 2012, ISBN 978 1 59853 162 6
- The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ by Wendy McClure
Riverhead, 336 pp, £10.00, April 2012, ISBN 978 0 594 48568 1
After the Vietnam War – or so the story goes – a little girl whose parents had fought the Communists in Laos was resettled with her family in St Paul, Minnesota. They didn’t like it. St Paul seemed noisy and expensive, and they worried about crime. But the little girl watched Little House on the Prairie: she knew there was a Minnesota town called Walnut Grove where girls in long dresses ran through tall (California) grass, and townsfolk gathered for spelling bees and barn raisings. She persuaded her parents that it was where they should be. The actual Walnut Grove had been dying, without even enough people to support a small grocery store. Now more than 250 Hmong live there, and run two grocery stores.