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The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History [Kindle Edition]

Ken Burns , Dayton Duncan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $30.99 What's this?
Print List Price: $40.00
Kindle Price: $16.73
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Book Description

In this riveting chronicle (which accompanies the documentary broadcasted on PBS) Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns capture the profound drama of the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Terrifying photographs of mile-high dust storms, along with firsthand accounts by more than two dozen eyewitnesses, bring to life this heart-wrenching catastrophe, when a combination of drought, wind, and poor farming practices turned millions of acres of the Great Plains into a wasteland, killing crops and livestock, threatening the lives of small children, burying homesteaders' hopes under huge dunes of dirt. Burns and Duncan collected more than 300 mesmerizing photographs, some never before published, scoured private letters, government reports, and newspaper articles, and conducted in-depth interviews to produce a document that may likely be the last recorded testimony of the generation who lived through this defining decade.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Given our current drought and economic woes, the powerhouse team of Duncan and Burns (The National Parks, 2009) chose a sharply relevant subject, the Dust Bowl, for their latest book and documentary. This riveting, illustrated volume of vivid written and oral history extends the scope of the film (premiering on PBS in mid-November) and clarifies our understanding of the “worst manmade ecological disaster in American history.” The Great Plains, a land of little rain and perpetual wind redeemed by buffalo grass, experienced a rare wet spell in the 1920s, just as homesteaders were encouraged to farm, and technological advances made it possible to plow up millions of acres of sod, exposing the soil. When the rains stopped in the early 1930s, fierce winds generated massive, rampaging, otherworldly dust storms. From struggling with the invasive, smothering dust to the immense “folk migration” as families fled west to FDR’s attempts to mitigate the disaster, Duncan and Burns chronicle every harrowing phase of this “decade of human pain and environmental degradation.” The result is a resounding chronicle of why we must preserve Earth’s life-sustaining ecosystems. --Donna Seaman

Review

"Stormy and dark, this reads like a family scrapbook you might banish to the far corners of the attic. Who wants to remember such hard times, captured here on hardened faces and in fear-filled eyes? Why dwell on such a troublesome blip in the triumphant narrative of American manifest destiny? Fortunately, Duncan and Burns don't hesitate. Their masterful volume accompanies a November PBS documentary about the environmental catastrophe brought on by fierce drought and heedless over-cultivation in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico in the 1930s. The authors have relied on interviews with some two dozen survivors, who tell of children going to school wearing gas masks and goggles to block out the dust. Once-grassy plains became lunar landscapes, bleached and featureless. The numbers alone are stunning. In 1934, the U.S. government spent half of what it had spent throughout all of World War I just to combat the drought. Toward the end of the decade, nine million acres of land had been abandoned-an area equal to Maryland. After this year's long, dry summer, as we face the prospect of rising temperatures, this is a story full of foreboding"
-Smithsonian magazine

"This riveting, illustrated volume of vivid written and oral history extends the scope of the film...and clarifies our understanding of the 'worst manmade ecological disaster in American history.'...Burns and Duncan chronicle every harrowing phase of this 'decade of human pain and environmental degradation.' The result is a resounding chronicle of why we must preserve Earth's life-sustaining ecosystems" -
Booklist

Product Details

  • File Size: 8690 KB
  • Print Length: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC (October 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009SM6N34
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,554 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
(54)
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story with haunting images November 21, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Typically the Dust Bowl is only briefly covered in high school American history, and many of us best know its aftermath from reading "The Grapes of Wrath" but there is so much more to this story than most of us know. This book is a great companion to the film. Both expose the human story that our education system usually ignores. The book and film benefit from the availability of vivid photography that illuminates the heartbreaking stories told by the survivors that the filmmakers were lucky to interview, some of whom have died since the filming was done. I hope US history teachers will get this book for their classrooms and incorporate it into their curriculum.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and very compeling. Easy read November 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book with actual photos and interviews from people who were children and survived this terrible time in our history is amazing. I had a hard time putting it down. I am a history buff and this book is the best I've read on the "Dust Bowl" years. Even on my Kindle DX the pictures were great.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those who survived hell on earth November 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover
The Dust Bowl, written and assembled by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns, is a gripping account of the worst ecological catastrophe America ever saw. Its many pictures and accompanying text form a compelling, sometimes emotional read. The devastation to the land and its people, the dust pneumonia and the mental breakdowns, comes fully alive in this book.

The authors follow the histories of specific people as they clung to the land and were sometimes driven from it. The most compelling of these accounts is that of an amazing woman named Caroline Henderson. Caroline grew up on a prosperous farm in Iowa and received higher education at Mount Holyoke College, every inch an Ivy League school. Around 1907 and as a college grauate, she moved to the Oklahoma Panhandle and married a local guy. She wrote beautifully of all her experiences and was frequently published, even in the prestigious Atlantic Monthly. The moving accounts of her experiences during the devastating Thirties form a taut anchor that holds the book together.

The book also contains interesting items that couldn't fit into the film. The most fascinating of these is the account of a young woman who left the Oklahoma Panhandle in the late twenties and came back to visit at the depth of the dust bowl. She left originally because she was "the gambler's daughter" and at the bottom of society. When she visited, she found that the drought and storms had destroyed the region's social stratification.

It is true that this book isn't quite as good as the documentary film. However, that film will probably win every award it's eligible for. The book is merely ... superb.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a new perspective April 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is truly definitive! The Dust Bowl was something I had always heard of, but never knew many details until I read this book.
It's unbelievable people could survive such a disaster. When I finished reading the book, I went outside and filled my lungs with clean, fresh, cool air with profound appreciation. People described their world as a 'brown one' with nothing green anywhere.
The color green had been given a completely new meaning after this account.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book November 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wow, this is a beautiful book ,and the price was great through Amazon.com. Watched the first part of the series last night and will watch the second half tonight. I am so glad I ordered the book through you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Never Knew May 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book introduces the reader to some of the surviving participants of the dust bowl era. The challenges the people who stayed during the devastation were articulated through interviews and written records and pointed out how environmental problems can arise from our lack of knowledge of impacts on this planet. The pictures that were included with the text only amplified the written words. We used this book in our book club discussion and everyone was extremely impressed with the research that the author had done to bring out the hardships and the fortitude of those who stayed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a story! March 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bought the Kindle version and really enjoyed it. It has many pictures, which suits my intellect! The pictures tell the story almost as great as any words, but the author does a great job, in a pithy way, of relating what you're seeing to this very challenging time in our country. Remarkable what these folks went through.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating read March 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I missed the TV series on this subject so was pleased to be able to get this on kindle. Extremely well researched subject and the photos really are quite dramatic. This is a wonderfully eloquant book on this quite understated disaster and i finished this book feeling that not only had i gained a great insight into the background, the causes and the devastation that happened, but also a great insight into all the very people that this affected with some beautiful memoirs. An Ereader does not do the photos justice however, i am sure this would make a stunning hard copy!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
Better when read after watching the documentary, of course, but a wonderfully informative book, either way! Read more
Published 3 days ago by Marty Byerley
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
I enjoyed this book. Very interesting and a testament to the endurance the people had. Also, an education of what results from poor management.
Published 2 months ago by R. W. Tether
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dust Bowl
I am only a chapter in and am taken back with the amount of research that I see. I was born a few years after the draught but heard a lot about it from my dad and grandfather. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mac
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book illustrating the history of the Dust Bowl
Love finding this companion to the TV series on the Dust Bowl. Will enjoy reading further about this era in American History.
Published 3 months ago by dls
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning photography, gritty detail about the dust bowl
brilliant, brilliant photography. Hard to read and comprehend these many years later, at the tragedy that hit the Midwest US. Excellent book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Mullis
5.0 out of 5 stars American history at it's best
I learned a lot about the Dust Bowl, which was a little before my time. Ken Burns always does great things.
Published 6 months ago by Maura Glazewski
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dust Bowl
I found the book very imformative and. Being from Oklahoma it hit home, because my parents lived there till 1942, although they did not live in the panhandle, it effected them... Read more
Published 6 months ago by peggy thomasson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Presentation
Combination of great photos and art with concise text. A quality effort. This is not just a "pretty" coffee table book.
Published 6 months ago by tony andrade
5.0 out of 5 stars Good companion book to the TV series
Ken Burns does great work - and my mother grew up on the prairie where my grandparents homesteaded in South Dakota. Read more
Published 6 months ago by CJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow very exciting and real
From a researchers perspective this is a nice reference material. I thought the author made things sound actual. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Cynthia A. Luisotti
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More About the Author

Dayton Duncan, writer and producer of The National Parks, is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker. His nine other books include, with Ken Burns, Horatio's Drive and Lewis & Clark. He has collaborated on all of Ken Burns's films for twenty years as a writer, producer, and consultant. He lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.

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