Review: Gilbert’s The Last American Man

The Last American Man
Elizabeth Gilbert

I was a little worried about reading this one. Gilbert is the author of the mega-best seller Eat, Pray, Love… and books like that aren’t really my jam. But a good friend, whose taste usually align with mine, got me this one as a gift so I gave it a shot. I have to say, I was impressed, both by Gilbert’s writing (which is excellent, you can tell she’s a long time professional journalist) and by the story of the Last American Man, Eustace Conway.

Eustace is a fascinating individual. He is a scholar of Native American crafts, a serious outdoorsman, a small business owner, a long distance horse rider, and the owner of vast wilderness training center on which he has built numerous buildings, by himself, by hand.

He’s also a bit of a handful. He’s bossy, judgmental and clearly not easy to live with. A string of romantic partners come in and out of his life, but none really stick, largely because he is never happy with himself, or with those close to him. Always struggling, he never really appears happy.

He is a complex dude, and a deeply compelling character. Gilbert tells his story with honestly, clarity and dignity. If you’re interested in what it may costs to live a purposeful life, close to the land, you’ll be interested in this book.


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