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Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl [Paperback]

Albert Marrin

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Book Description

Oct. 16 2012
In the 1930's, great rolling walls of dust swept across the Great Plains. The storms buried crops, blinded animals, and suffocated children. It was a catastrophe that would change the course of American history as people struggled to survive in this hostile environment, or took the the roads as Dust Bowl refugees.

Here, in riveting, accessible prose, and illustrated with moving historical quotations and photographs, acclaimed historian Albert Marrin explains the causes behind the disaster and investigates the Dust Bowl's imact on the land and the people. Both a tale of natural destruction and a tribute to those who refused to give up, this is a beautiful exploration of an important time in our country's past.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (Oct. 16 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142425796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142425794
  • Product Dimensions: 27.7 x 22.6 x 0.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #515,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Albert Marrin is a much-decorated historian and writer whose most recent book, Terror of the Spanish Main, was called "addictive reading" in The Horn Book. He lives in Riverdale, New York.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a stunningly haunting tale about the "worst environmental disaster in American history!" Nov. 23 2009
By D. Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
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. Somehow I was not expecting this book to tie into the ecological consequences of the dust bowl starting with the decimation of the buffalo herds. When I looked at the covers, I expected nothing more than another Steinbeckish type book discussing the Okies, Black Sunday and the New Deal. According to the author this book blends two stories: the ecology of the Great Plains and how people "invited disaster." This blend provided a stunning new look at the dust bowl and the horrific consequences that happen when land is misused. Toward the end of the book an eye is cast toward China and hints at how they are inviting ecological disaster. The sepia toned photographs are simply amazing and add just the right amount of cement to make this book a masterpiece. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, notes, a bibliography and additional recommended book resources.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but not Marrin's best Oct. 6 2009
By Leslie S. - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Layout and History of the Dust Bowl! March 24 2012
By Sylviastel - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Younger Readers Aug. 18 2011
By Sioux City Sue - Published on Amazon.com
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad I Bought It! June 25 2014
By Susan Yankle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought some Dust Bowl books and DVDs for my own personal interest. I can also tie them in to social studies/history lessons for my fourth graders, though none of the books/DVDs I bought were geared toward elementary students. The book really lets you imagine the unimaginable! After reading my nonfiction books and watching Ken Burns Dust Bowl DVD, I reread Grapes of Wrath and watched that old video, which made me appreciate the fiction account even more!

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