BookBrowse Reviews The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin

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The Children's Blizzard

by David Laskin

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin X
The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2004, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2005, 336 pages

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Captures the brutal, heartbreaking folly of this chapter in America's history. History

Comment: 'You'd think that 307 pages about the weather would be literary NyQuil. But this account of the 1888 blizzard that killed more than 100 children in the Great Plains reads like a thriller in which a deranged predator preys upon an unsuspecting frontier population.'  -- Entertainment Weekly.

I started reading The Children's Blizzard out of a sense of duty to the publisher, so I could hold my head up and honestly say that I'd given it my best shot, but just like the reviewer for Entertainment Weekly, I ended up hooked by the gripping story, and read it cover to cover in one evening, despite the fact that much of this time was spent in an increasingly cold bathtub of water.  The Children's Blizzard is about so much more than the blizzard- it's about the prairies themselves and the people who attempted to settle them.

I say attempted because in the early 1890s, just a few years after the Great Blizzard, drought ravaged the region and thousands went bankrupt; by the time the rains returned in the late 1890s over 60 percent of the pioneer families had abandoned their homesteads.  Keep in mind that these weren't soft city folks looking for an easy time, but the heart and soul of northern Europe, mainly Germans and Norwegians who were well used to the hardships and uncertainties of farming in tough climates.  750,000 emigrated from Norway alone during the 19th century.

This review first ran in the September 14, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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