Edwin A. Curley was an English journalist writing for The Field: The Country Gentleman’s Newspaper, a London weekly, at a time when the advice to migrating British farmers and farm laborers was that they would find their best chances in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, and that opportunities in the United States had somewhat dried up. Styling himself as special commissioner from The Field to the emigrant fields of North America, Curley arrived in America to report in person on conditions there. His weekly articles were skeptical, acerbic, and amusing but only modestly encouraging to emigrants. Then he arrived on the Great Plains, where he underwent an almost religious conversion, so excited was he at the exceptional possibilities he found there.
Curley wrote his book as a comprehensive guide to these opportunities, covering geography, surface geology, climate, land availability and prices, costs of food and farm equipment, and fruits and trees that might be grown in Nebraska. It contains several maps and illustrations, accounts of the success or failure of individual settlers, and specific reports on every Nebraska county.