O My America! Second Acts in a New World by Sara Wheeler - review by Amanda Foreman

Amanda Foreman

Blazing Sidesaddles

O My America! Second Acts in a New World


Jonathan Cape 267pp £18.99

Sara Wheeler is a travel writer best known for her writings on the two coldest places on earth: the North and South Poles. For this book she chose an altogether different route, taking a leisurely stroll through the 19th century in the more temperate clime of the United States. O My America! is a collection of essays about six remarkable women who explored the country when it was still a half-tamed wilderness. 

It is difficult to imagine, now, quite how much grit and courage it took for a woman to defy Victorian convention and travel on her own, let alone to places where there were none of the protections or comforts of ‘modern’ life. If some of the women profiled by Wheeler

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