October 14, 2018

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin - Review

Book details
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; 3rd edition (October 11, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060520760
ISBN-13: 978-0060520762

Book description
“David Laskin deploys historical fact of the finest grain to tell the story of a monstrous blizzard that caught the settlers of the Great Plains utterly by surprise. Using the storm as a lens, Laskin captures the brutal, heartbreaking folly of this chapter in America’s history, and along the way delves into the freakish physics of extreme cold. This is a book best read with a fire roaring in the hearth and a blanket and box of tissues near at hand.” — Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City

Thousands of impoverished Northern European immigrants were promised that the prairie offered "land, freedom, and hope." The disastrous blizzard of 1888 revealed that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces they neither understood nor controlled, and America’s heartland would never be the same.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Meet the author - David Laskin
David Laskin was born in New York in 1953 and educated at Harvard College and New College, Oxford. For the past twenty-five years, Laskin has written books and articles on a wide range of subjects including history, weather, travel, gardens and the natural world. His most recent book, The Children’s Blizzard, won the Washington State Book Award and the Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award for Nonfiction. Laskin’s other titles include Braving the Elements: The Stormy History of American Weather, Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals, A Common Life: Four Generations of American Literary Friendship and Influence, and Artists in their Gardens (co-authored with Valerie Easton). A frequent contributor to The New York Times Travel Section, Laskin also writes for the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, and Seattle Metropolitan. He and his wife Kate O’Neill, the parents of three grown daughters, live in Seattle with their two sweet old dogs.

My thoughts
Overall I really liked this book but there were a few parts that drug a little for me. Those parts were when meteorology and the process of putting out the cold weather flags. For me on small chapter on this would have been enough. With that being said the rest of the book was so enjoyable for me that it outweighed the other. I don't really like saying the book was enjoyable as it was about many people's pain and suffering so it was not "enjoyable" in that it was a fun book but "enjoyable" in that it was very informative to me. I grew up in Nebraska and Kansas and have been to many parts of Nebraska and South Dakota that were mentioned in this book. My ancestors were Norwegians that settled in the Dakota Territory where this book took place. I am sure I had family that went through this horrible time period and would like to know their story and how they fared. I liked that the author used first hand accounts to tell many of the stories. I can't imagine being that teacher who had to make the decision on whether or not to send the children home and then finding out the kids did not survive. The way this blizzard happened after a very nice day is so typical of the Midwest weather. I highly recommend this book. 

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