Come and Get It marries human story to cultural history

Barney Glasgow begins his career as a lumberman at age 13. Part Paul Bunyan, part Horatio Alger, Barney works his backbreaking way up from a chore boy yelling, “Come and Get It,” to logger, then to timber buyer, then to land buyer.

Sharp practices and marriage to the boss’s daughter turn Barney into a millionaire paper mill operator.
Forest in fog

Come and Get It  by Edna Ferber

Doubleday, Doran, 1935. 518 pages. 1935 bestseller #9. My Grade: A-.

In 1907, Barney is 53 and unhappily married when he meets the gorgeous granddaughter of one of his former lumber camp cronies.

Lotta prefers Barney’s son, Bernie.

Bernie and Lotta marry after his parents die in an accident.

Edna Ferber’s nineteenth century characters are vivid individuals, drawn with candor and an eye for detail. No one in the novel is a stereotype or caricature.

As lumber wagons give way to automobiles, Ferber revs the story. Her lingering 1800s portraits become snapshots, insubstantial, blurred.

Bernie lives to work.

Lotta lives to play—until the 1929 crash leaves her no money to play with.

Barney and his ilk in the 19th century had considered replanting timber too expensive.

Now the giant pines are gone. There’s nothing to replace them.

The giant men are gone, too.

Will the generation coming of age on the brink of World War II become giants like their grandparents?

Read Come and Get It and draw your own conclusions.

 © 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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