Book: Eight Women, Two Model Ts, and the American West

In the early 1920s, the West was still relatively wild—many territories had just gained statehood, mine-worker violence had recently erupted across the region, and train robberies were common. Yet in the summer of 1924, eight Nebraska farm girls set off on a nine-week, 9,000-mile road trip across the West—“without a man or a gun,” as author Joanne Wilke writes in her new book, Eight Women, Two Model Ts, and the American West (University of Nebraska Press; $19). Using both personal interviews and third-person narration, Wilke, the granddaughter of one of the women on the trip, compellingly conveys the passion and determination that led these brave young travelers to “see some things” together—including Yosemite, Crater Lake, Mount Ranier, and Yellowstone Park—despite the extraordinary difficulties of such a trip. Throughout the book, Wilke expertly interweaves her own story of personal discovery and connection to the West, including how and why she made Bozeman her home. The result is a seamless fusion of memoir and adventure, insight and history.