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Years of Dust Hardcover – August 20, 2009

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Years of Dust + Children of the Great Depression (Golden Kite Awards)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1040L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1 edition (August 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780525420774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525420774
  • ASIN: 0525420770
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 11.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–9—Marrin begins with an overview of the natural history of the Great Plains, describing its unique geography and delicate ecological balance. Next, he discusses how the American ranchers and farmers who migrated into the region "invited disaster" by "changing the ecology" of the area, destroying native plants and animals and using farming techniques that left the soil vulnerable to the heat and droughts of the 1930s. The Dust Bowl and the human suffering it caused are put into the larger context of the Great Depression. New Deal efforts to change farming practices and the implementation of conservation measures are also explained. The book closes with a warning about the worldwide dangers of overuse of land and expanding desertification. Numerous sidebars provide more information about topics mentioned in the main text. The author writes with his usual clarity and flair and uses excerpts from primary-source accounts and literature to give voice to the people who explored and settled the plains as well as those who suffered through this environmental disaster. The narrative is supplemented with several maps and large, riveting reproductions of period photos and illustrations. This title covers much of the same ground as Diane Yancey's Life During the Dust Bowl (Gale, 2004), but Marrin's outstanding writing and the high-quality illustrations make this cautionary tale a worthy addition.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"...a reader-friendly, insightful work of history." --Kirkus, starred review

More About the Author

Albert Marrin is an award winning author of over 40 books for young adults and young readers and four books of scholarship. These writings were motivated by the fact that as a teacher, first in a junior high school in New York City for nine years and then as professor of history and chairman of the history department at Yeshiva University until he retired to become a full time writer, his paramount interest has always been to make history come alive and accessible for young people.

Winner of the 2008 National Endowment for Humanities Medal for his work, which was presented at the White House, was given "for opening young minds to the glorious pageant of history. His books have made the lessons of the past come alive with rich detail and energy for a new generation."

Dr. Marrin's numerous other awards include the Washington Post Childrens'Book Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the James Madison Award for Lifetime Achievement, several Horn Book awards by the Boston Globe, consistently appearing on the best book of the year lists of the American Library Association, frequent recognition by Book Lists, and the Western Heritage Award for best juvenile nonfiction book presented at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame among others.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The ominous black cloud crept across the landscape. It wasn't just any cloud, but was one that carried so much destruction with it, that it was dubbed "black blizzard." Drought had hit the great plains and ultimately it would be considered the "worst environmental disaster in American history." It was something that many looked at as a freak of nature, but looking back in time it was something that could have been totally avoided and began with the innocuous destruction of a "keystone animal," the buffalo. The buffalo was the one animal that so many others depended on in order to survive, but no one could foretell the maelstrom that would arrive. In 1886-87 the "Big Die-Up" began. In the 1920s the "Great Plow-Up" began and more than 5,260,000 acres of grassland were lost to the plow. Disaster was coming.

The grass roots that had held the soil were no longer there. Seasonal crops like corn and wheat soon depleted the soil and their shallow root systems would hold nothing beyond their season. The ground cover was gone and the dust began to swirl for "farmers had sown the seeds of a unique tragedy--a tragedy totally beyond their experience. The Dust Bowl." People began to suffer and die of unusual things such as black lung and the grit from the dust would cut into their lungs. In the 1930s, 250,000 boys and girls joined the ranks of the hobos, roaming the countryside in search of food. Photographer Dorothea Lange went in search of the people and her photographs became a haunting reminder of a disaster that didn't have to happen. Too many people suffered and died needlessly.

I was very impressed with this book from the first page to the last.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Leslie S. on October 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Albert Marrin. I have made it a point of buying any of his books I can, even the ones out of print. He is engaging and makes the time period come alive. I was looking forward to getting this book for months because of it. On the whole he does a good job explaining the causes and results of the dust bowl. If you are a visual person (I am not, I focus almost exclusively on the text), the pictures are worth the price of the book. I had hoped however that there would be more history and a little less environmentalism in the book.
As a teacher, I would recommend this book in conjunction with a fiction work such as Irene Hunt's No Promises in the Wind as a great way for high schoolers to understand the depression.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sylviastel VINE VOICE on March 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author does an excellent job in explaining the Dust Bowl history in the United States in the 1930s. The author has done his homework in research and the photographs of the Dust Bowl or Black Blizzard leave you speechless. The Dust Bowl was a manmade disaster in the Plains when men didn't respect the Plains. The soil conversation act has helped promote the welfare of the land to prevent other dust bowls or black blizzard when millions of tons of sand and soil blew across the Plains.

The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression were two great man-made catastrophes each on their own scale. A perfect storm of financial catastrophe and human hardship. The author acknowledges some myths about the Dust Bowl history. For example, not all Dust Bowl families were like the Joads in John Steinbeck's classic American novel, "The Grapes of Wrath," who migrated to California. Many families in the Dust Bowl went to the nearest town or city to look for work. Three quarters of Dust Bowl families remained behind in the Plains on their land courtesy of the Homestead Act.

This book might be aimed for young readers but I found it particularly useful for adults and for those who don't know too much about the Dust Bowl and it's legacy. The United States have placed measures and learned the harshness of the Dust Bowl when people and children died from dust related illnesses and circumstances. The Dust was deadly to those who inhaled and breathed the air but the dust was inescapable. Imagine, dirt everywhere.

This book does provide a literary and visual images to forever change our perception of this time in American history when mankind wasn't respectful or understanding of how to treat the land they called home. They would learn a painful and necessary lesson in preventing another Dust Bowl.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sioux City Sue on August 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'll admit that I didn't know a lot about the Dust Bowl before reading the historical romance novel, The Happy Immortals, that was set back then and also in 1949. Since falling in love with that book, I've become a voracious reader of anything I can get my hands on relating to the Dust Bowl, the Panhandle, etc.

Years of Dust is such a powerful book. Even though it is written for younger readers, it is an important work for anyone, regardless of age, who wants to discover what those years meant.

What happened during the 1930s during the "dusters" is a very important part of our country's history, and the more we understand about the bittersweet blend of hope, despair, and courage that came from the experiences of those years--all is vital to discovering what led to the 1940s and beyond.
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