“Records a uniquely American, multigenerational odyssey. . . . The family journey takes some surprising and often poignant twists and turns along the way. . . . [Sandlin] discovers that the ties that bind across the years are stronger than he expected. . . . Serves as a reminder of the significance of understanding and respecting your roots.” – Booklist
“A crop of distinctly American characters. . . . Sandlin expands his genealogy of a conventional family into something considerably more.”—Kirkus
In The Distancers, seven generations worth of joy and heartache is artfully forged into a family portrait that is at once universally American yet singularly Lee Sandlin’s own. From the nineteenth century German immigrants who settled on a small Midwestern farm, to the proud and upright aunts and uncles with whom Sandlin spent the summers of his youth, a whole history of quiet ambition and stoic pride–of successes, failures, and above all endurance–leaps off the page in a sweeping American family epic. Touching on The Great Depression, WWII, the American immigrant experience, the uses of proper manners, how to ride the rails in the dust bowl years, and home brewing during prohibition, The Distancers is a beautiful and stark Midwestern drama, about a time and place long since vanished, where the author learned the value of family and the art of keeping one’s distance.
Lee Sandlin is the author of Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild and Storm Kings, and reviews books for The Wall Street Journal. His essay “Losing the War” was included in the anthology The New Kings of Nonfiction. He lives in Chicago.