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Publication date: July 2024 University of Nebraska Press

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Iron and Mary Barrett’s farming family is rural royalty, their success symbolized by a magnificent three-story house, Mary’s Place. Years in the building, the house is a testament to Mary’s grit and organizational abilities. But when bank examiners apply new ratings for agricultural loans in the 1980s, the family’s belief that its prosperity is a natural outcome of hard work is sent reeling.

Bank president J.C. Espy had never done anything crooked in his life until the FDIC changed the rules for agricultural loans. After becoming desperate to save his hundred-year-old bank, he worries that his resulting choice will cause his friend Iron to lose his land. Frantically J.C. works to convince Iron he will lose everything if he doesn’t comply with the new standards. In the meantime, both Iron and J.C. must negotiate with sons who have contempt for their fathers’ old-fashioned values. While Iron agonizes, Mary maneuvers to keep the family together and save the farm.

Mary’s Place is an unforgettable tribute to the rural families who weathered one of the worst agricultural disasters in American history.

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