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Publisher's Summary

In the mid-1930s, North America's Great Plains faced one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in world history. Donald Worster's classic chronicle of the devastating years between 1929 and 1939 tells the story of the Dust Bowl in ecological as well as human terms. Twenty-five years after his book helped to define the new field of environmental history, Worster shares his more recent thoughts on the subject of the land and how humans interact with it. In a new afterword, he links the Dust Bowl to current political, economic, and ecological issues - including the American livestock industry's exploitation of the Great Plains and the ongoing problem of desertification, which has now become a global phenomenon. He reflects on the state of the plains today and the threat of a new dustbowl. He outlines some solutions that have been proposed, such as "the Buffalo Commons", where deer, antelope, bison, and elk would once more roam freely, and suggests that we may yet witness a Great Plains where native flora and fauna flourish while applied ecologists show farmers how to raise food on land modeled after the natural prairies that once existed.

©2004 Oxford University Press, Inc. (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An exciting, provocative, and stimulating study.... It has much to say to historians, environmentalists, and public policy makers." ( American Historical Review)

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  • JB
  • 02-04-19

Nearly 40 Years & Nothing Has Changed

A small sample of man’s hubris on a regional scale and your chilling global preview.

3 people found this helpful

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Ableist waste of time

According to the author capitalism invented loneliness and existential despair to sell more vacuum cleaners. Deeply offensive to anyone who knows any history. Or has at least three braincells. I'm not a fan of capitalism but this is a waste of time. It might have been groundbreaking in 1979. Now it's informative only if you haven't heard about global warming.

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Tiresome Anti Capitalism

I was hoping for something to enhance what I had learned from the excellent Burns documentary "The Dust Bowl". Instead we get a sophomoric diatribe against American capitalism. Definitely a waste of time and money!