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Monday, November 1, 2010

The Dust Bowl by Donald Worster~★★★★

Author: Donald Worster
Title: The Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s
Release Date: September 30th, 1994
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 25th anniversary edition
Genre: Non-fiction

Book Cover: "In the mid 1930s, North America's Great Plains faced one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in world history. Donald Worster's classic chronicle of the devastating years between 1929 and 1939 tells the story of the Dust Bowl in ecological as well as human terms. 
Now, twenty-five years after his book helped to define the new field of environmental history, Worster shares his more recent thoughts on the subject of the land and how humans interact with it. In a new afterword, he links the Dust Bowl to current political, economic, and ecological issues---including the American livestock industry's exploitation of the Great Plains, and the on-going problem of desertification, which has now become a global phenomenon. Worster reflects on the state of the plains today and the threat of a dustbowl. He outlines some solutions that have been proposed, such as "the Buffalo Commons," where deer, antelope, bison, and elk would once more roam freely, and suggests that we may yet witness a Great Plains where native flora and fauna flourish once again."

Taryn's Review: I've always enjoyed learning about the history of the Dust Bowl. But in studying it, a question always lingered for me: "Why did this happen?" That's where Donald Worster does a great job tying it all together from an economical, political and ecological perspective.

If you've read Timothy Egan's book The Worst Hard Time, this book is very complimentary to it. While Egan focused much more on what I would call the Dust Bowl victims' perspectives, Worster took the reader along the for many other views. I really enjoyed Worster's work.

The afterword created a bit of a rowdy discussion in class, but overall, the book is really great for anyone who has an interest in the Dust Bowl or maybe folks who have an interest in the region. It's very readable and has some very moving pictures throughout.

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