In 1993 Jonathan Raban entered the Badlands, a place the size of England and the least visited region in all of the United States. Here he came across the ruins of a community and isolated homesteads. These homes, he realized, gave clues as to the characters and lives of the thousands of landless people who, seduced by the advertising of the railroad companies in the early 20th century, took the train West in search of new lives and a permanent agricultural community. What had happened to turn these homesteaders' hopes of a new beginning into such despair? The land which betrayed them turned out to be an America in miniature. This is their story.