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Going Over East Reflections of a Woman Rancher All About the Book

What's Here?

About the Book
Brief information about the contents, publication details, and ordering information.

About the 2001 Edition
Going Over East was reprinted in 2001. Learn about this updated edition.

Honors and Awards
Read about the award that led to the publication of this book.

Q&A about Going Over East
Linda answers some questions about the book.

Reviews and Comments
What do others say about this book?

Lookout Rocks
A brief excerpt from the book about a landmark-- see the photo!

Some passages from Going Over East
Linda picked out a few of her favorite quotes from the book.

Table of Contents -- coming soon

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Study Guide
A Going Over East study guide created by a college professor is available.
Click here for details.

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About the Book

Paying tribute to the rancher's preoccupation with the cycle of birth and death, Linda reflects on ways to apply the wisdom of nature and the lessons of the past to the problems of the future. The stories are structured around the opening and closing of gates as Linda and George go "over east" to the summer pasture on the John Hasselstrom cattle ranch on the arid grassland of southwestern South Dakota.

With each stop, she makes a nostalgic foray into the past, discusses the routine demands of her family's cow-calf operation, pays loving tribute to a favorite old horse, celebrates the wildlife and silent dignity of deserted homesteads, or hurls a diatribe at the forces threatening the future of the land and small, family ranches.

A new epilogue in the 2001 edition offers readers a look at the changes to the land and Linda's life since this book was first published.

Going Over East
Published 1987, paperback edition 1993
reprinted with new cover and epilogue, 2001
206 pages, size: 5.5 X 8.5
With suggested further reading.

cloth (hard-cover) edition is out of print

$10.00 – original 1993 edition paperback
sale price only from Linda M. Hasselstrom
ISBN 1-55591-141-2

$15.95 – paperback 2001 edition
ISBN 1-55591-141-2

Published by:
Fulcrum, Inc.
16100 Table Mountain Parkway, Suite 300
Golden, CO 80403-1672
(800) 992-2908
or (303) 277-1623
Fax: 800-726-7112
website: www.fulcrum-books.com

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Going Over East
2001 edition.

About the New Edition

Linda wrote:

Going Over East was first published in 1987. I was forty-four years old, and believed myself to be settling happily into middle age with a comprehensive plan for the future. Today, almost fifteen years later, nearly everything about the life I was living then, and the life I foresaw and hoped for, has changed. Some of the book’s characters-- the real people and animals who filled my life at that time-- have vanished, disappeared like a handful of dust thrown into a prairie wind. But the land, and the bedrock of truth I discovered in the writing, remain.

From Going Over East, 2001 edition
“Epilogue: The Final Gate,” p. 203.

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Going Over East
1987 cloth edition and 1993 paper edition.

Award Winner!

Going Over East was the 1987 winner of the first annual Fulcrum American Writing Award.

The Fulcrum American Writing Award was an annual award competition for the best work by a North American writer on environmental, resource, and social issues. The Fulcrum American Writing Award carried with it a $2,500 cash award and publication by Fulcrum, Inc.

Each year the award was made for the best manuscript in a chosen topic. (1988 award topic: On Nature; 1989 award topic: A Work for Children About the Outdoors; 1990 award topic: Natural History.) 1987 Winner: Linda M. Hasselstrom, Going Over East, for the best work about farming, farmers and the land.

Fulcrum Publishing discontinued this award in 1990.


For a webpage about Linda's other awards and honors click here.

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Q&A about Going Over East

Q: You only mention your mother a few times, very briefly, in GOING OVER EAST, but you wrote about your father quite a bit. Did you hate your mother?

I did not hate my mother; I'm sorry she didn't have a daughter who shared her interests. I loved and respected both my parents. The subject of the book is ranch work and the way ranchers think, and my mother preferred to keep house and do more ladylike things-- attend church, attend Ladies Aid meetings, and read-- so she simply wasn't part of the activities I was writing about. Her interests weren't primarily in ranching, but she taught me a great deal about loving literature. We were not much alike; she wanted me to stay in the house and do ladylike things, but I loved to be outside working.

I heard my parents argue about it sometimes, but besides wanting me to do what I enjoyed, my father needed the help; we couldn't afford to hire a man to help us, so my labor was an essential part of jobs like haying.

Also, my grandmother-- my mother's mother-- proudly and vigorously did ranch work all her life, and I wanted to be more like her. I did learn to cook and enjoy it, but I was never as enthusiastic about house-cleaning as my mother thought I should be.

Q: You write about your horse, Rebel, "For years I was the only person to ride her, and my love affair with her was the most perfect I've ever had. The others ended in heartbreak or marriage or both." That's a little weird.

Was that a question? Sadly, humor seems to be vanishing from our daily lives. As I was trying to convey how much I cared for that horse, I realized I could turn the comment into a mildly funny aside on my love life and the only marriage I'd experienced at that time, which was certainly heartbreaking. The comparison was apt: Rebel never lied to me; she didn't spend my hard-earned money on frivolous things; she didn't sneak around, and she never allowed herself to be ridden by anyone else.

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Reviews and Comments About Going Over East

From Edward Abbey, author of Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang
Going Over East is a quietly eloquent, highly readable account of life and work on a contemporary cow farm. My congratulations to the author.

From William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky
Going Over East is the real thing: experience precisely observed and told about in straightforward language. This is ranching as it is. A fine book.

From "Maggie" at GoodReads
Going Over East is a series of short essays on the history of the area, her childhood on the ranch, the current state and future of ranching in America, and other reflections on rural culture, environmentalism, and more.

The book is tied together by the story of Linda 'Going Over East' to a far pasture to check on the cattle with her husband and his son, with each chapter beginning at a new gate they must pass through to reach that pasture, and stories which flow from the conversation, the location, etc.

This is a highly readable and enjoyable account of modern day family ranching (and more); I heartily recommend it.

Anonymous Comment Found Online
This is one of my favorite books. I first read it when I had left the traffic clogged freeways of LA to live the rural life. I will never forget the sense Hasselstrom gave of what it really takes to battle the elements (and the political and economic changes) that create such a harsh reality for real working ranchers. As an editor I often refer writers to this book as an excellent example of memoir writing. I highly recommend this and Hasselstrom's other books. She is such a skilled writer that whatever she writes about is surely worth reading.

From Amazon Customer "Julie"
Maybe I have a slanted viewpoint because I can relate to the author when it comes to ranching, but she does a great job of putting you there with her, looking at the gates, watching the wildlife, thinking about her stepson and the future of the land / ranch / country itself. I will give this book as a gift and look forward to the author's other writings.

From Amazon Customer "Donald"
I've read several of Linda Hasselstrom's books and am a fan. She writes well, sharing insights from daily life which are very satisfying.

From a Reader
I first read this book in a regional lit class in college. Being a farmer's wife, I related easily to her tales of life as she "passed through the gates" on the ranch. What an interesting format. The book touched on the important past as well as present rural issues that make that life unique. The author comes across as a strong, independent, and thoughtful woman-- someone who respects the power of the past and is interested in the future. The clash of technology and ranching is also explored in a sensitive way. It was a great "journey"-- going with her as she rode the ranch-- a vast empire of land that holds special significance to her and many others.

Review by "Barney C."
In one way this book accurately depicts life on a family ranch in the area where the author lives; she says nothing that is totally untrue. On the other hand it is misleading. Ranch life is more rewarding than Hasselstrom seems to find it. The somewhat trite whining about minor problems masks some of the real fulfillment and pain that comes with ranching. The author has published several books since this one first appeared in 1987. Some of the later work is much better.

The book has some quality things going for it. The author also writes poetry and that comes across in her prose at times, as it does in the chapter titled, "Sixth Gate." Humor also shows through; the "Seventh Gate" is a good example. The author express well the joys of a spring morning, riding to look at the livestock in good weather, and gazing across a South Dakota landscape that is often delightful. The ranch lies between the Black Hills and the flatlands farther east. She hints at the great feelings that come with pride in raising quality livestock, bring up children in a wholesome environment, helping a new calf come into the world, and taking responsibility for living an independent life. The "Eleventh Gate" about battling a prairie fire is the finest in the book. It illustrates how rapidly fighting fire can demarcate success and failure on a vital scale.

If the reader finds a rancher who has time to talk and asks them what is good about their life, most will list all of the positives found in this book and more besides. Ask about the most serious problems and you will find that most of the big ones are in this book, although nearly hidden in some cases. The uncertainty of the weather and markets may be the first things mentioned. The need for water, both surface water or in wells, is perhaps the most important issue facing ranchers and farmers in the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. Another valid issue for family operations is the difficult of competing with larger operations, growers located closer to their markets, growers in climates better suited to production, and producers in countries with lower standards of living. It is likewise true that long-term declining profit margins have forced family operations to continually get larger, with fewer people on the land.

Ranchers can also fill your ears with complaints about hunters who won't shut gates, vegetarians, environmentalists, litter from fast food containers, dumb people from the east, and myriad other things. They will also complain about things such as governmental policies, water rights, expenditures on welfare, corporate agriculture, people's disregard of the worth of the family farm, and public right-of-way across their land. At lot of it is simply boilerplate. There is far too much of that in this book. If the author takes it seriously, it is hard to fathom why she came back to the ranch or continues to live there.

Fortunately for us, Hasselstrom does more than ranch; possibly out of both mental and financial necessity. There are several fine books on our shelves that she has written or edited.

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The stone cairn called "Lookout Rocks."

The Lookout Rocks

I point south, until Mike can see the lookout rocks.

He wants the story, but there isn’t one. The pile of rocks has been there as long as Harold, my eighty-year-old uncle, can remember. It stands three feet high at the point of this long ridge, and is visible for several miles. We climbed up to it once; it’s built of naturally flattened chunks of limestone, carefully leveled and chinked with smaller rocks, and tapers up to a point at the top. Harold says sheepherders used to build landmarks like it, but no sheep have ever been herded in this neighborhood. It’s impossible for us to tell its age, unless something was put inside it, but we won’t tear it down for that. . .

From Going Over East
“Eighth Gate: Homesteading the Future”
page 127