Book Review of
Trials of the Earth
Near the end of her life, Mary Mann Hamilton (1866 – c.1936) began recording her experiences in the backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. The result is this astonishing first-person account of a pioneer woman who braved grueling work, profound tragedy, and a pitiless wilderness (she and her family faced floods, tornadoes, fires, bears, panthers, and snakes) to protect her home in the early American South.
An early draft of Trials of the Earth was submitted to a writers’ competition sponsored by Little, Brown in 1933. It didn’t win, and we almost lost the chance to bring this raw, vivid narrative to readers. Eighty-three years later, in partnership with Mary Mann Hamilton’s descendants, we’re proud to share this irreplaceable piece of American history. Written in spare, rich prose, Trials of the Earth is a precious record of one woman’s extraordinary endurance and courage that will resonate with readers of history and fiction alike.
I picked up Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton at a used bookstore. I knew it would work great for my nonfiction books for every state challenge. This book was a fascinating read. I read this book in just a couple days. I could not put it down.
Memoirs are very popular right now. There are tons of them being written and promoted. Trials of the Earth is a memoir written long before the modern day popularity of writing memoirs.
The new and the shiny books are what are often pushed by publishers and on social media, but there are so many hidden gems that were written ten, twenty, and even fifty years ago. This book is an example of that. Trials of the Earth was published in 1992 by University Press of Mississippi. I doubt this book got much press or attention when it was published, but it should have. Trials of the Earth is a memoir about pioneer life in the Mississippi Delta. There is a lot written on pioneer life, but I have never read anything that covers the Mississippi Delta area of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
This book covers the time period and culture of that area well. Nothing makes you appreciate modern conveniences and modern times quite like reading a book like this. It was a totally different world and place back then. The author is honest as she shares her life of hardship, poverty, death, and loss. It took a strong person with a lot of grit and determination to live in the area and time that Mary Hamilton did.
There is so much to be learned from those that have come before us.