CWS Afternoons: 'The Thresher,' with presentation by Patrick Hicks

The Thresher by Herbert Krause (2017 ed.)

Event Details


Date: October 13, 2017

Times: 4-5 p.m.

Location: Center for Western Studies (2121 S. Summit Ave.)

Ticket Info: This event is free and open to the public.


The Center for Western Studies invites you to join us from 4-5 p.m. Friday, October 13, to celebrate the release of the Center's new edition of Herbert Krause’s classic Minnesota farm novel, "The Thresher," with a new introduction by Patrick Hicks. This event is free and open to the public, with hot cider to be served. Hicks will sign copies of this new 510-page edition of "The Thresher," available for purchase at $10.

Patrick Hicks, who succeeds Krause as writer-in-residence at Augustana University, will discuss the representation of the complex relationship between the land and those who farmed it in this second book of Krause’s gritty prairie trilogy, which includes "Wind Without Rain" (1939), "The Thresher" (1946), and "The Oxcart Trail" (1954). Acquainting a new generation of readers with "The Thresher," Hicks has crafted a stirring introduction to this new edition.

Patrick Hicks is the author of "The Commandant of Lubizec: A Novel of the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard(2014) and the short story collection "The Collector of Names" (2015), as well as six poetry collections. He is also the editor of "A Harvest of Words" (2010), a collection of contemporary South Dakota poetry published by the Center for Western Studies with support from the NEH.

About "The Thresher"

For Johnny Black, the young man we meet in Herbert Krause’s classic Minnesota farm novel "The Thresher," his dream of becoming a member of a steam-powered threshing crew has come true. As fireman, he builds the fire that generates the steam and blows the whistle to wake up the rest of the crew.

"For this he had counted tomorrows and tomorrows. From all the weary days of sweat on the flats (and days before that), he had looked to this shouting hour when with pride in his arches he’d swing to the platform and handle the throttle. Now that hour had arrived, was present."

As writer Patrick Hicks explains in his introduction, commissioned especially for this edition, Johnny’s ambitions far exceed mastering this new technology, and what he is willing to sacrifice to achieve them is the driving force of the novel.

About the Authors: Herbert Krause was a poet, novelist, essayist, ornithologist, and environmentalist of the Northern Plains. Born in Minnesota, the setting of his three novels — "Wind Without Rain" (1939), "The Thresher" (1946), and "The Oxcart Trail" (1954) — he moved west over the course of his career. Invited in 1938 to establish a writing school at Augustana University, in South Dakota, Krause ultimately sought to define the contours and characters of the American West. In his writing and teaching, he extolled “the vastness and the richness of the land, the leveling of democracy, the freedom of action and the independence of the spirit.”

Patrick Hicks, who here introduces a new generation of readers to "The Thresher," is successor to Herbert Krause as Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University. He is the author of "The Commandant of Lubizec: A Novel of the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard" (2014), as well as six poetry collections, including "Adoptable" (2014) and "This London" (2010). He is also the editor of "A Harvest of Words" (2010), a collection of contemporary South Dakota poetry published by the Center for Western Studies with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Hicks’ collection of short stories, "The Collector of Names," was published in 2015, and he is currently at work on a new novel.

Of related interest are "Birding in the Northern Plains: The Ornithological Writings of Herbert Krause," edited by Ronald R. Nelson, and "Poems and Essays of Herbert Krause" edited by Arthur R. Huseboe, published by The Center for Western Studies.