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Which Is the Best Book Based in South Dakota?

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When you think of literature where South Dakota is the centerpiece, one series of books comes to mind.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, Laura Ingalls Wilder published eight ‘Little House’ books, including five written about her time in the Dakota Territory, near DeSmet, from the late 1870’s to the early 1890’s.

Those stories later served as the inspiration for the Little House on the Prairie television show, which ran on NBC from 1974 to 1983.

But when Travel & Leisure recently complied a list of the ‘Best Book Based in Each State’, it wasn’t the prairie that won out.

It was the badlands.

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree

Their selection was the 2008 book The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, the first novel written by Ann Weisgarber, an Ohio native.

It’s the fictional account of ranchers Rachel and Isaac DuPree, an African-American couple from Chicago, who move to the South Dakota Badlands in the early 1900’s.

In 2009, the book won both the Stephen Turner Award for New Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction.

There’s even a movie in the works, based on the novel. Academy Award winner Viola Davis optioned the rights to the story back in 2011 and will produce, and star in the big screen adaptation.

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