Synopses & Reviews
In The Last American Man
, acclaimed journalist and fiction writer Elizabeth Gilbert offers a fresh cultural examination of contemporary American male identity and the uniquely American desire to return to the wilderness.
Gilbert explores what pushed men to settle the frontier West in the nineteenth century and delves into the history of American utopian communities. But her primary focus is on the fascinating true story of Eustace Conway, who left his comfortable suburban home at the age of seventeen to move into the Appalachian Mountains, where for the last twenty years he has lived off the land.
Conway's romantic character challenges all our assumptions about what it means to be a man today; he is a symbol of much that we feel our men should be, but rarely are. From his example, Gilbert delivers an intriguing exploration into the meaning of American manhood and from the point of view of a woman refracts masculine American identity in all its conflicting elements. Like Jon Krakauer's national bestseller Into the Wild, this book will find an enthusiastic audience among women, readers of American history, and those interested in nature and the wild.
"Gilbert, a top-notch journalist and fiction writer, braids keen and provocative observations about the American frontier, the myth of the mountain man, and the peculiar state of contemporary America with its 'profound alienation' from nature into her spirited and canny portrait." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Elizabeth Gilbert has done a marvelous job of profiling Eustace Conway a modern-day Jim Bridger whose every hour roaming American is laden with mythological magic. The Last American Man is, in fact, the best book of New Journalism to appear since Tom Wolfe published The Right Stuff. A truly delightful, outrageous, unforgettable saga." Douglas Brinkley
Wickedly well-written... There are two parts to The Last American Man: Conways personal story, which is fascinating enough, and the way it entwines with the American preoccupation with robust, can-do masculinity. James Gorman, The New York Times Book Review (Editors Choice)
"Gilbert has a jaunty, breathless style, and she paints a complicated portrait of American maleness that is as original as it is surprising." Publishers Weekly
What does it mean to be a man in modern America? Do men somehow better themselves when they leave civilization and head into the woods? The Last American Man
is a cultural examination of contemporary American male identity and the uniquely American desire to return to the wilderness.
From the frontier West to American utopian communities, Elizabeth Gilbert has produced a history of American manhood as it has never been told before.
To illustrate her story, Gilbert uses the rich and fascinating case study of Eustace Conway, a man who has lived in the Appalachian Mountains since the age of 17. Conway has worked tirelessly to try to convince his fellow Americans to give up self-destructive modern lifestyles and return with him to the primal sanctuary of the wilderness. He is a living metaphor that challenges all assumptions about what it is to be a modern man in America.
The Last American Man is at the same time an adventure saga and a thoughtful meditation on the relationship of man to the wilderness. It is also a reflection of masculine American identity in all its conflicting elements--energy, isolation, narcissism, inventiveness, audacity, and destiny.
Acclaimed journalist and fiction writer Gilbert focuses on the fascinating true story of Eustace Conway, who left his comfortable suburban home at the age of 17 to move into the Appalachian Mountains, where for the last 20 years he has lived off the land.
About the Author
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a short story collection, Pilgrims-a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares-and a novel, Stern Men. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper's Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.