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The Children's Blizzard de David Laskin
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The Children's Blizzard (2004 original; edició 2005)

de David Laskin (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1,500709,387 (3.96)231
The gripping story of an epic prairie snowstorm that killed hundreds of newly arrived settlers and cast a shadow on the promise of the American frontier. January 12, 1888, began as an unseasonably warm morning across Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, the weather so mild that children walked to school without coats and gloves. But that afternoon, without warning, the atmosphere suddenly, violently changed. One moment the air was calm; the next the sky exploded in a raging chaos of horizontal snow and hurricane-force winds. Temperatures plunged as an unprecedented cold front ripped through the center of the continent. By Friday morning, January 13, some five hundred people lay dead on the drifted prairie, many of them children who had perished on their way home from country schools. In a few terrifying hours, the hopes of the pioneers had been blasted by the bitter realities of their harsh environment. Recent immigrants from Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the Ukraine learned that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces they neither understood nor controlled. With the storm as its dramatic, heartbreaking focal point, The Children's Blizzard captures this pivotal moment in American history by tracing the stories of five families who were forever changed that day. Drawing on family interviews and memoirs, as well as hundreds of contemporary accounts, David Laskin creates an intimate picture of the men, women, and children who made choices they would regret as long as they lived. Here too is a meticulous account of the evolution of the storm and the vain struggle of government forecasters to track its progress. The blizzard of January 12, 1888, is still remembered on the prairie. Children fled that day while their teachers screamed into the relentless roar. Husbands staggered into the blinding wind in search of wives. Fathers collapsed while trying to drag their children to safety. In telling the story of this meteorological catastrophe, the deadliest blizzard ever to hit the prairie states, David Laskin has produced a masterful portrait of a tragic crucible in the settlement of the American heartland.… (més)
Membre:annie7364
Títol:The Children's Blizzard
Autors:David Laskin (Autor)
Informació:Harper Perennial (2005), Edition: 3rd, 336 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:****
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Informació de l'obra

The Children's Blizzard de David Laskin (2004)

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This is a horrific story of The Blizzard of 1888, that came down from Canada and devastated Minnesota, The Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska.

The first section of the book, David Laskin chronicles the journey of five families as they left Europe or the East Coast and struck out on the plains to make their mark. They were given the freedom to homestead, on unforgiving land with unpredictable weather.

The first half of the book gives background on these families, so when you finally get to the storm you are aching inside for all that is lost. Also covered in the first half is an intense history of the Signal Corps(those responsible for relaying daily weather ) and the earliest meteorologists. There was a lot of data on how weather was forcasted, the politics of the day and a lot of scientific data on weather. I struggled through this part of the book, but others who are more informed or educated in science may enjoy the history of it.

It is called "The Children's Blizzard" because children were caught in the schoolhouses when the Blizzard struck. January 12th 1888 dawned unseasonably warm, and they left their homes in thin clothing, without boots and cold weather gear. When the storm began, it is reported, it was one huge black cloud. The snow that came from it was fine as sand and as hard as glass. The winds gusted near 60 miles an hour, and the temperature dropped to 40 degrees below zero. Those that ventured out into were immediately covered in ice. Their eyes and noses passages frozen, unable to stand or move into the wind.

I appreciate good research and Laskin did well on that. Contacting relatives and historical societies where the devastation occurred. He unearthed enough material to really give you a connection to their lives. He tells a vivid account of people and animals freezing to death. These sections were extremely graphic and were hard reading.

I enjoyed the writing of this author enough to search out other books he has written.
( )
  JBroda | Sep 24, 2021 |
On January 12, 1888, a massive blizzard swept down without on the north-western United States. Totally unforeseen by primitive techniques and unwary weather observers, the blizzard hit in the middle of a warm pleasant day, where farmers were out working their fields and their stock, children were in school and people were out and about. This ensured a tragedy of massive proportions as people were caught suddenly with warning and without shelter. At least 235 people died, many of them children sent home by teachers who did not appreciate the danger, hence the name Schoolchildren's Blizzard, many froze to death vainly seeking shelter in unheated houses, sheds and haystacks. This is a graphically horriffic book, as the author describes in detail the many stages that a person dying of cold goes through, but a gripping story about an event I had never heard of before. ( )
  drmaf | May 17, 2021 |
The writing style wasn't particularly engaging but the subject was horrifyingly intriguing. ( )
  cantrell678 | Dec 29, 2020 |
I had never heard of the Children's Blizzard of 1888 before picking up this book. In parts of Nebraska and the Dakota Territory, the storm arrived without notice at midday after a beautiful winter morning. It held some of the worst blizzard conditions and some of the lowest temperatures ever recorded in the Great Plains and it claimed the lives of many children struggling to find their way home from school.

I was disappointed in this book. There is a lot of background information (chapters of it), then the storm comes (in one chapter), then there is a somewhat quick wrap-up in the final chapters. The author follows several families impacted by the storm, but the stories are so chopped up, and interspersed with so much extraneous detail, that you begin to lose track of who is who. All together too much background, too many stories for this to really connect. ( )
  stevesbookstuff | Nov 7, 2020 |
This is a very, very good book and one that I will re-read at some point to re-capture the details that escaped on the first go round. And it was also delightful to read a weather geek explain the phenomenon that caused this catastrophic blizzard: high pressure, low pressure, and how they work. Maybe someday I'll understand that aspect!

Laskin does a phenomenal job researching the lives of the families caught up in this push into the Western US plains. He researches the history and places where 5 or 6 families originated, their customs, reasons for making the voyage, experiences to get to their ports, and other similar stories from the time. So we get to know some families, know that they had stories similar to other people from the same region or on the same transport, and they were not plucked up and placed in the Dakotas or Nebraska out of thin air.

There is a great deal of research into early American weather forecasting, especially what worked and what didn't. And the Signal Corps and Lieutenant Woodruff, who was an active duty soldier in charge of the weather forecasting and relaying messages East from the various points in Montana and the Great Plains, interpreting them, and drawing them on a map ready for the telegraph machines.

When the storm hits, Laskin again goes into detail about the snow and ice and crystals, as well as what extreme cold does to the human body based on survivors' stories and medical evidence. It is also important to know, and I didn't, that there were survivors who lasted the night, only to die the next morning when the blood from their freezing limbs began to circulate around their hearts.

So it's a heart-wrenching historical account, very similar to "Isaac's Storm" and tales about the Northwest Passage, of people who left one land and set of difficult circumstances for hope of a better life, only to have that life changed so tragically. ( )
  threadnsong | Aug 30, 2020 |
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David Laskinautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Schuck, MaryDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Steer, JudyCopyeditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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It was as if we were being punished for loving the loveliness of summer.

-Willa Cather, My Antonia
I often times think of those days; when it seemed possible that if a man seated on the gable peak of the old sod house by reaching quietly up when a flock of wild geese were flying he could easily reach up and catch them. But now where are our geese; way above the clouds; we can hear them but can't see them.

-Josephine Buchmillar Leber, Dakota pioneer
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To my own girls,

Emily, Sarah, and Alice,

who never cease to amaze me
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On January 12, 1888, a blizzard broke over the center of the North American continent.
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For the teachers at their wits’ end, the drays were a godsend. With transport and men to help, it was just a matter of getting the kids lined up and counted and then marched out the door and onto the drays. Again, Walter and the other monitors were called on to get their rows ready. The monitors must go last, after the other kids in their rows had filed out, one by one.     The air, when they finally got outside, was a shock. The air itself seemed to be streaming sideways in billows of grit. The snow felt like frozen sand against their eyelids and nostrils and lips. They couldn’t face into the wind or open their eyes, even for a second. The wind was blowing so hard that if you fell you couldn’t get up again. But to the kids it didn’t matter. Being out in a storm powerful enough to shut down school and bring ten men out from town to rescue them was a tremendous lark, and the children fairly poured outside and down the rickety schoolhouse steps, everybody shouting over the wind and shoving and edging sideways or backward toward the drays.     The wood of the drays was already rimed with snow and frozen solid as a rock, but for the first couple of minutes none of them felt the cold through their thin clothing. They piled on in masses of bodies and they had each other for warmth and a bit of shelter. There was much gleeful screaming as the schoolhouse emptied.     Walter took his responsibility as a monitor very seriously. Not until his entire row was accounted for, assembled, and marched outside would he even dream of leaving the school. So he was one of the last ones out.  The drays were nearly full by now – there was just room for him at the back of one. Walter scrambled up, the teachers did a final head count and shouted to the drivers that it was all right to start. The men snapped the reins and the five drays began creaking forward, one after the other in the storm, just as they had come out from town.     They hadn’t gone ten yards when Walter suddenly hopped off. He had just remembered his precious water bottle. He knew enough about weather to realize that the water inside the fragile perfume bottle would freeze as soon as the schoolhouse stove went cold and then the ice trapped inside would burst the bottle. Without thinking, Walter dropped from the dray and rushed up the wooden steps, down the hall to his room, grabbed the bottle from his desk, and ran back out.     Only then did his thoughts catch up with his body. The drays had been barely creeping when he jumped off. He had assumed that they would still be in front of the school when he got back – or at least close enough to run after and overtake. Ordinarily, he could see for miles out here. Surely someone would spot him standing there and stop the dray and wait for him.     But that’s not how it worked out. In the seconds that it took Walter to get his bottle, the drays had vanished without a trace – out of sight in the whiteout, out of earshot in the screaming wind. “The world is full of nothing” ran inanely through Walter’s mind. And now he experienced that little seizure that tightens around the heart when you first realize you’ve taken a step that you cannot reverse. Snow clogged his nostrils and coated his eyelashes. Snow blew down the neck of his coat and up his sleeves. The air was so full of powdered ice crystals and it was moving so fast that Walter had trouble filling his lungs. The exposed skin of his face and neck felt seared, as if the wind carried fire not ice. A cottony numbness spread through his body and brain. It did not occur to Walter that he could still take shelter in the schoolhouse. Though he could barely see or breathe, he decided to set out for home.      Once he had made that decision, a door shut behind him. After a dozen steps into the storm, he could not have returned to the schoolhouse if he wanted to.
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

The gripping story of an epic prairie snowstorm that killed hundreds of newly arrived settlers and cast a shadow on the promise of the American frontier. January 12, 1888, began as an unseasonably warm morning across Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, the weather so mild that children walked to school without coats and gloves. But that afternoon, without warning, the atmosphere suddenly, violently changed. One moment the air was calm; the next the sky exploded in a raging chaos of horizontal snow and hurricane-force winds. Temperatures plunged as an unprecedented cold front ripped through the center of the continent. By Friday morning, January 13, some five hundred people lay dead on the drifted prairie, many of them children who had perished on their way home from country schools. In a few terrifying hours, the hopes of the pioneers had been blasted by the bitter realities of their harsh environment. Recent immigrants from Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the Ukraine learned that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces they neither understood nor controlled. With the storm as its dramatic, heartbreaking focal point, The Children's Blizzard captures this pivotal moment in American history by tracing the stories of five families who were forever changed that day. Drawing on family interviews and memoirs, as well as hundreds of contemporary accounts, David Laskin creates an intimate picture of the men, women, and children who made choices they would regret as long as they lived. Here too is a meticulous account of the evolution of the storm and the vain struggle of government forecasters to track its progress. The blizzard of January 12, 1888, is still remembered on the prairie. Children fled that day while their teachers screamed into the relentless roar. Husbands staggered into the blinding wind in search of wives. Fathers collapsed while trying to drag their children to safety. In telling the story of this meteorological catastrophe, the deadliest blizzard ever to hit the prairie states, David Laskin has produced a masterful portrait of a tragic crucible in the settlement of the American heartland.

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