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The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 21, 2012
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2012
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2012
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2013
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
on December 21, 2012
This is a tremendous book about one of the worst man-made tragedies in American history. With photos, narratives from those who wrote of their predicaments while living through it and interviews with people who survived or were able to escape their predicament the book packs a real wallop. The author not only explains what the dust bowl was all about he explains why it happened with step by step analysis. Many who have heard of the phenonenom still believe it was caused when the climate turned against the farmers, the rains stopped and the winds churned up the bone-dry land. Not so! There had never been much rain in the area and the wind was ever-present. The thick sod (called Buffalo Grass) soaked up the rain and held the moisture. When the farmers came to the land in their vast numbers they plowed under the thick sod and exposed the soil. The wind did the rest. The result was a catastrophe unimagined by those who caused it; but they were abetted in their ignorance by the Federal Government when an earlier warning which had been sounded was disregarded. Years before the influx of the farmers an envoy had visited the area to survey it for habitation on a permanent level. At the time the area (now mostly Oklahoma) was known only as Indian Territory in which many tribes had lived successfully as hunters. The envoy submitted his report in which he said the territory could not sustain large numbers of settlers who intended to plow the land and live from agriculture. His report was not heeded. The land was opened and the settlers eventually arrived in great numbers.
For a number of years all seemed well. The newly exposed soil produced bumper crops of various grains and prices were good. Others came, took new land. Then came the congolomerates. These huge companies bought up great tracts and plowed them all into farmland. Soon only small patches of grass remained. In the 1920s the tragedy began and by the late 1930s it had devestated the entire area. With no sod or grassland to soak up what little rain there was the grain could not survive to harvest and nothing could stop the winds from blowing the dirt wherever it chose. The vast area became known as The Dust Bowl.
This book should be read by anyone interested in the American past, by those who are interested in America's future and in every school by teachers and the students who will inherit this nation. They will learn what happened in Oklahoma and why it happened. Most importantly they will learn who caused it and how they did it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2013
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2012
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
on January 24, 2013
Fantastic book by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. I got it at the library and was fortunate enough to get a couple of snow days to read and finish it. Usually not the case during the school year. As an ardent fan of The Grapes of Wrath and a big FDR/Great Depression fan this book was phenomenol! Brilliant first hand accounts of life on the Great Plains from the bang em up 1920s to the desperation of the 1930s. Oral histories from people who lived the Dust Bowl as children and their recollections as senior citizens. The study of history is most important as a way to improve the future. The Dust Bowl was a product of human inability to understand nature and ecosystems. Lessons learned from this era should be advantageous to us now. We, however, like those who practiced the faulty farming techniques of the past century are choosing to not listen. We continue to squander precious resources and ask the earth to do things for our comfort that make no ecological sense. Brilliant book for fans of the not so Great Depression, the Great Plains, the New Deal and those of an ecological bent, too. I can not wait to see the film. A must for all of us. There are so many lessons to be learned here. Our ancestors were indeed amazing people. Strong, rugged and independent. A great and uplifting story for all of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In the early part of twentieth century, plentiful rain in the Southwest allowed farmers to plow up thousands of acres of prairie Buffalo grass, and raise bumper crops of wheat. However, in the 1930, as the rest of the country descended into the Great Depression, the rains turned rarer and great dust storms began to plow across the Great Plains. This is the story of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, its genesis, and its affects.

I must say that I found this to be a very interesting book. The text is very interesting, with lots of text being drawn from the reports of eyewitnesses. It does a great job of covering so many aspects of the tragedy. Also, the many black-and-white pictures really add to the experience of the reading, making it a really moving experience.

So, let me just say that if you are interested in the Dust Bowl, this is a great book for you to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2013
I wish I had taken advantage of the combination price when I opted for the video only. The book, cumbersome as most coffee table books, allows one to reflect on the video and flesh out the video's quick narratives. I especially enjoyed being able to refer back to the bios of all the pioneers who contributed to this wonderful slice of our history. So......buy 'em both!
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