This book, in essence, offers three tales of immense suffering - yet, also, of obvious endurance. Families left home (Pennsylvania and Illinois, Virginia, czarist Russia) in order to find the proverbial new life, only to experience hunger, sickness, the loss of loved ones, and day in, day out, a seemingly endless expanse of backbreaking toil, with no sign that even a modest good fortune was forthcoming. These families went far from home in order to further their own chances in a life that seemed all too tenaciously unyielding, and so doing, particular men and women gave us, today, a homeland that is wonderfully far-flung. These histories are not heroic; on the contrary, they tend to flatten out much of what we have learned about pioneering. The frontier family, remembered with nostalgia as a model of ordered simplicity, was neither simple nor orderly, but full of changes and abrupt transitions.