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Next Year Country: Dust to Dust in Western Kansas, 1890-1940 [Hardcover]

Craig Miner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

September 6, 2006 0700614761 978-0700614769 annotated edition
West of Highway 81, there lies another Kansas. While it accounts for two-thirds of the state's land area, it is sparsely populated and nearly desert dry. Before 1940, it was still distinctly rural-a place that some residents called the "Edge of the World."





Several generations of the Miner family have lived and farmed in Ness County, providing Craig Miner with a rich and very personal backdrop for this heartfelt and compelling portrait of western Kansas. In Next Year Country he recounts the resilience of his fellow Kansans through two depressions and the Dust Bowl, showing how the region changed dramatically over fifty years-not for the better, some might say.





In this striking regional history, Miner blends the voices of real people with writings of small-town journalists to show life as it was really lived from 1890 to 1940. He has fashioned a richly textured look at determined individuals as they confronted the vagaries of raw Nature and learned to adapt to the machine age. And he captures the drama and vitality of rural and small-town life at a time when children could die in a blizzard on their way home from school, in a place where gaping holes of cellars and wells from abandoned homesteads posed real hazards to nighttime travelers.





No mere nostalgic reverie, Miner's book chronicles the hard challenges to these Kansans' ambitious efforts to create a regional economy and society based on wheat, in an area once thought only marginally suitable for cereal crops. His diverse topics include the history of agricultural experiment stations, new approaches to irrigation, and the impact of the tractor and the combine; the role of women's clubs in developing culture, the growth of higher education, and the rise of the secession movement; and how people responded to pests, from prairie dogs to grasshoppers, and to radical groups, from the IWW to the KKK.





Next Year Country depicts the kind of rugged individualism that is often touted in America but seldom seen anymore, a testament to how people dealt with both Nature and transformative change. It is both a love song to Kansas and the best kind of regional history, showing that life has to be taken on its own terms to understand how people really lived.




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Next Year Country: Dust to Dust in Western Kansas, 1890-1940 + West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865-1890
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Meticulously researched and beautifully written by an accomplished historian with roots in the region, Next Year Country is a worthy sequel to West of Wichita, Miner's excellent history of western Kansas during the settlement period. Here, Miner chronicles the economic and social development of this unforgiving land from the drought and political turmoil of the 1890s through agriculture's short-lived Golden Age of the 1910s and the farm depression and Dust Bowl of the 1920s and 1930s. It is a story that is both sobering and inspiring." -- Hal S. Barron

From the Back Cover

"Meticulously researched and beautifully written by an accomplished historian with roots in the region, Next Year Country is a worthy sequel to West of Wichita, Miner's excellent history of western Kansas during the settlement period. Here, Miner chronicles the economic and social development of this unforgiving land from the drought and political turmoil of the 1890s through agriculture's short-lived Golden Age of the 1910s and the farm depression and Dust Bowl of the 1920s and 1930s. It is a story that is both sobering and inspiring."--Hal S. Barron, author of Mixed Harvest: The Second Great Transformation in the Rural North, 1870-1930

"A lively, engaging, and well-written volume that captures the history of western Kansas and Kansans in their own words and on their own terms."--Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, author of Rooted in Dust: Surviving Drought and Depression in Southwest Kansas


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; annotated edition edition (September 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700614761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700614769
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another hit by historian Craig Miner! August 12, 2006
Format:Hardcover
This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what life was and is like on the unforgiving Great Plains. Although this book focuses on Western Kansas, it provides a vivid picture of the hopes and dreams of those who populated the Great Plains between 1890-1940.

Being a fifth generation resident of Western Kansas, this book gives me a startling view of what challenges my ancestors went through, and makes me proud that we have survived to this day in "Next Year Country."

Craig Miner's personal connection to Western Kansas makes this book especially poignant, and his attention to detail is vast.

Most importantly, the book causes one to ponder the future of the Great Plains as a whole, and gives one hope that our forbearers survived obstacles much greater than we face today.
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