I have family that live in South Dakota in the area that hit hard by this blizzard. He mentions Spirit Lake and these boys watching the storm roll over it before it hit them. That is the area where my family homesteaded and still live today, about 12 miles from DeSmet and Laura Ingles.
Even though I grew up 100 yrs after that storm, I knew about it.
I don't think you can find a cemetery in that area of South Dakota that does not have at least one marker that reads Jan 12 1888.
My Mother refused to read this book as felt it would be to painful to hear the stories over again. As she grew up there and knows how hard a Dakota winter can be.
Laskin did a wonderful job of taking a horrable chapter in our history, and telling it with senitivity. He did not go into gory detail about the death of so many and did put in the good side of the story too.
Wonderful true story about the devastating blizzard in 1888 before storm warnings like this were made known to the people. Yet politics did play a part in the disaster. A fascinating look at the background and how it all happened. Graphic descriptions of death make it real for the reader. Lingers in the mind long after you have finished the book.
I read this book a few years ago, and it still sticks with me. Knowing the blizzard was coming,I wanted to warn the kids and the teacher. I rooted for them to live, knowing the outcome would not be affected. I loved learning about the individual lives, and didn't know which ones would live and which ones would die. The way the stories are told make this book the gem it is. Laskin peels away the layers of their stories. The story that could have been a small lost part of South Dakota becomes the story of a generation lost to a rougue storm.
An engrossing narrative. You live the sorrows and victories right along with the protagonists. As well as telling about the blizzard, the author gives us biographies of the various people trapped by the weather.
Extremely well-researched and written. Brings to life characters with respect and carefully fictionalized last minute accounts of their lives. Meteorological information written in such a manner to interest readers and enhance the feeling of urgency. Carefully detailed accounts of political infighting that may have influenced the future of the Weather Service are also well-explored.
Well . . . I really, really, really wanted to like this book. Almost all of the reviews were great and the subject matter appealed to me. Unfortunately, I had to force myself to finish it. I kept thinking it would get better. At least 1/3 of the book is a science/meteorology lesson outlining how/why storms like this occur (B-O-R-I-N-G), while another sizeable chunk was explaining the biology and phenemena of freezing to death/hypothermia. The smallest part of the book (the part I was most interested in) was devoted to the families and their stories of this horrible storm. I realize there may not be much written history about this (given the tragedy of the situation and the time period - 1888), but this book really left me wanting more. A disappointment.
Excellent book! I read it because I had family members affected by the great storm of 1888. Laskin goes into terrific detail about the nature of this weather phenomenon and all the detail of the event, including what freezing does to the human body. Gripping!
This is the story of an historical blizzard which hit the Great Plains in 1888 killing hundreds of new settlers. It is an intense tale which many of us have never heard. It is called The Children"s Blizzard because so many children were caught in it on their way to or from school walking across the prairie.
This book tells the stories of many families - largely those with children - affected by a horrific blizzard in the plains in the late 1800's. While there are some dry sections that deal with the meteorological science of the situation, by and large the book is a fascinating glimpse of what true winter hardship is. It will make you count your blessings (like furnaces, down comforters, cars, snow blowers, etc.)
Very interesting book -true-about a blizzard that sweeps the plains during the winter of 1888 and the children that lwft for school on a balmy day to find themselves in a raging storm on the way home....how many died trying to protect their siblings.
As a kid we had a story about this blizzard in our elementary reader so I was interested. I found the research to be well done, but the author didn't seem to know what to do with it. He alternated between scientific fact and humanistic drama irregularly with no real consistency. It was like he wasn't sure which way to go and couldn't incorporate the two. Overall, I thought it was okay, but could have been written better.
I really enjoyed this book. Having lived on the Dakota plains, I can say that the depiction of the weather is completely accurate. Those early settlers must have been incredibly strong because the climate is amazing and nearly unbearable, even today. High plains blizzards are a staggering force of nature, and those who fail to respect that force definitely pay the price. When I moved to Dakota I learned an important real estate term: Windbreak. And, I learned that even modern ranchers use the rope system to guide them between the safety of home and the outbuildings where they must care for the animals that are their life blood. One can easily become disoriented and lost in a storm of half this intensity and freeze to death within yards of shelter, even today.
I particularly enjoyed the authors depiction of the morning after the storm because it is so true. Anything with a profile will be blown clean on one side and shrouded in drift behind, and the clean snow sparkles like crystal. However, when you finish appreciating the incredible beauty, you begin the difficult task of digging out and counting the damage.
I was disappointed that the author didn't include any information on the loss of Native American life, as they had been consigned to 'agency' land and could no longer escape to the Black Hills for shelter from these storms. To my knowledge, no count exists as they were not included in the 'human life lost' at that time. Something to think about...
I have to say that I was hoping for more about the settlers and less meteorology and military background of the man who was eventually blamed for not forecasting the storm sooner. Full chapters (and then some) were devoted to both of these subjects. I found some of this information just plain boring and some to not have any bearing on the story at all. Some may really appreciate this information, but I could have done with out it.
All over, a really good book and accurate depiction of early settler life on the plains. I would recommend it.
The first couple of chapters I found to be rather boring. Once you get past those the book is worth reading is such a tragedy that so many died after coming to America to live there dreams. It seems they were lured to this part of the country,the Dakotas to live an extremely far fetch dream. It is too bad they had not picked a better region. Those times were so primitive and reckless. A very sad story but worth the time.
This was a fascinating examination of the factors that made a blizzard in 1888 so horrific. The weather reporting system was rudimentary at best. Residents of the Dakotas and other Plain states were not sufficiently warned, and the loss of life was horrific.
I must confess that the parts about cold fronts and other weather phenomenon were the least interesting parts of the book to me, but I have never been a weather buff. Others might find it fascinating. The part of the book that was compelling to me was the stories of the intrepid pioneers who settled this harsh part of the country. It was a fascinating look at their culture, hopes, and dreams.
The book was worth a read and a must for people interested in extreme weather.
This is such a heartpulling story. This is the account of the day the wind finally did what it always promises to do on those bleak Dakota prairies. This storm was so terrible and so many were trapped and died. I have read this book twice and each time my heart breaks for those that went thru this period. Very good read.
It is not an easy read. Partly because of the amount of detail and research. Partly because it is about the horrible deaths and suffering of children.
However it is an important book.
As Americans, we too often forget the price that was paid to make us the super power we are. We also too often listen to people who demonize our ancestors, who were really just poor people trying to survive and make a better life for their children.
I just could not get into this book. I know it got great reviews, but it was so slow moving and it introduced so many characters that I just wanted the blizzard to come. I should say I am not a fam of non fiction to that may have attributed to my dislike of the book, but the other reviews and the description made me request it.
This book chronicles the many stories that came out of the January 1888 Blizzard that in time has become known as the Children's Blizzard due to the many numerous children that died from the extremely frigid weather that swooped down from the north on an unsuspecting population due to the very warm conditions that preceded it. This is an extremely powerful book on the brutal conditions that one can find themselves in when the weather goes from deceptively mild to absolutely inhospitable for most life forms! This book will allow you to see just how important the weather forecasts are to our very lives. I don't think I will ever take the forecast for granted after reading this book. Thank god that our technology has advanced to the point where we generally get many hours if not several days warning of expected bad weather.
A heart wrenching look at the storm known as the "Children's Blizzard". Powerful and moving. Not for the faint of heart. An incredible true story with thought provoking images and the amazing will to survive.
I loved this book, when I read it about 7 years ago, and I kept it on my bookshelf. I love true history stories. Ironically, while doing family research, I discovered that one of my ancestors died in this blizzard, and his body was not found for about 4 months. In the family history book, they refer to this as The Schoolhouse Blizzard. If you like true history, you will enjoy this book.
I really feel compelled to review this book, and to rethink my rating of it. The first few chapters were very dull and hard to read for me- I am die-hard fiction and trying to branch out. I finished this book this morning, and I have thought about it all day. I talked about it with the group of kids I read with at school, with my husband, with my mom on the phone- it is unforgettable and so tragic. Once you get past the detailed way that weather was forecast in 1888, the story really picks up. I will change my rating to 4 stars!
As one person said, this book reads like a novel. I was hooked right away and never lost interest. There is a lot of talk of how the weather was predicted in 1888 which was never boring, surprised me. The horrors that these poor people went through during and after the blizzard are heart wrenching and sometimes queasy. After the last blizzard here in SE MN this past winter where I-35 southbound was closed and part of the north bound lane I cannot imagine how anyone survived the 1888 blizzard. We are never to take weather predictions today as a sure bet as it can and has changed in an instant. A great story of survival and weather history during the late 1880's. Are people as compassionate today.
A very detailed explanation of the weather patterns that caused this storm. But also a detailed description of the suffering of the people caught up in it, particularly the children trying to get home from school. This is not a book for the faint of heart.
This is an amazing tale, graphic and sad, but speaks in a true voice of the hardships pioneers of the period suffered. I found some of the weather information sections a bit too lengthy and detailed for my taste, but certainly some scientific explanations were necessary to understand the inconceivably powerful forces at work the day of the blizzard. The author did extensive research in both factual and oral histories. Most of the book does read as a novel, and proves the point that a true story can be even more riveting than fiction! All in all, a great read for anyone interested in history and our westward expansion.
The author did lots and lots of research for this book and at times if felt as if he was trying to cram all that information into the book. I understand the need for the background information on immigration, weather phenomenon and the formation of the modern day weather forecasting, however, it was like reading a textbook at times. It was an interesting textbook but I wanted the human stories - the stories of who was caught outside in the storm and how they tried to escape or were trapped. Page count showed that it was more than half way through the book before the author got to this information and for me at least there was not enough.
I loved this book. although it was filled with details of weather and weather predicting at the time, the story was captivating. It was sad how these children fought to stay alive. But if you like truth about our nation's history . this is a story for you . You wont forget it
This book is about the blizzard that occured on the Great Plains on Jan. 12, 1888. The story is told from every angle including history and description about the location, biographies of those involved, meteorlogical information, etc. Some of the information gets a bit overwhelming but the author has done a great job in making the facts easy to understand while moving seamlessly between facts, history, and stories. Very interesting read, although I reccommend reading it on a warm day because the story itself can chill you to the bone. Its July but at times I felt as though a blizzard must be raging outside.
I was excited to read this book as the subject matter sounded very fascinating. However once I started it, I just could not get into it, though I tried several times. I found the first few chapters to be quite boring and finally I gave up on it.
Drawing on family interviews and memoirs, as well as hundreds of contemporary accounts, here is a meticulous account of the blizzard of January 12, 1888, which killed some 500 settlers in Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota--many of them children lost on their way home from school.
x-posted to www.bookcrossing.com
This book both fascinated and horrified me. It's the true tale of the harrowing blizzard of January 1888, as it swept the northern plains of the US. I wanted to jump into the pages of the book and make the children that ventured out into the storm stay in what shelter they could. My heart broke for the families who lost loved ones. This book will move you.
I really liked this book and I also have family in that area near spirit lake . Yep there are several cemetarys in that area that are marked with the date of the blizzard . my late mother knew some of the descendants of some of the people mentioned in the book . This book had me crying and really caring about these folks in the book . one boy imparticular who carried a lil perfume bottle and it froze on him and broke . I don't want to give any of the book away but it was such a bad storm and my late mother hated bad winters .
This is one of the saddest books I have ever encountered. I could not imagine what these people went through during that blizzard in 1888. I cried when reading parts of it. This is definatly a must read if you are intrested in Amaerican history. The only reason I gave it 3 stars was because several chapters talked about meterology. I thought that without some sort of flow chart or map it's very hard to understand the conditions in how the blizzard started unless you are a student of meterology. It was a lot of information to try and understand.