READ EBOOK ♪ The Children's Blizzard ☧

This book was an astonishing history and chronicle of this monstrous blizzard in 1888 The author goes in depth to the emigrant Homesteading stories and background of the Signal Corps now known as the National Weather Service It is fascinating reading but left me heavy hearted at the toll of lives lost, so many of them children. Thanks to Goodreads friend Melki I have an owned copy that I could read at my leisure I was able to return a less than pleasant to read library copy as soon as I received it It was such a pleasure to read a basically pristine copy The only times I normally get to do that is when I manage to get a new book in the first batch the library lends out So, I thought this was going to be a 5 star book for me but it wasn t I did really like it and I m glad I read it It s a 3 star book I m upping it because it s an important story and it s unique in writing in such detail about the subject So the good and the middling and the bad I admired the in depth research that was done and appreciated the mentions of sources, and there were many I liked that for those affected there was some background information and post blizzard information about many of them The biographical information pre settling in the area and in the U.S and also the conditions they faced on the prairie, including horrible weather prior to this particular blizzard and other forms of bad luck, added a lot to the account The people did come alive with all the information given about their lives I ached for the people who didn t make it and for their families Some of the accounts were heartbreaking I especially ached for the children who didn t make it especially those who d already had difficult lives The descriptions were phenomenal The experiences of being in the storm were so well described I d had no idea I learned a lot about blizzards and weather and what life was like on the prairie The fact that most of these people lived hard lives before the storm was something I felt was crucial to know It s an important story and while well known in that area I hadn t known about this storm or about day to day life in this area at that time This book does a good job of explaining all that I m glad that the reader learns from the start who survives and who does not in some cases Though there is to say about the foreshadowing in my third, the bad, paragraph What I was most impressed with was the description of the experiences of the blizzard Presented are remarkable, astounding accounts and top notch research This isn t really about the book but I was impressed that the author thanked Erik Larson one of my favorite non fiction writers in his friends and family acknowledgements section So, large portions of the book were a really slow read for me I was grateful that I enjoy science including meteorology because there are large sections devoted to the weather Just weather Also there was a fair amount about the politics of the weather forecasting at the time For me it started particularly slowly but once I really got to know some families and individuals and their circumstances, it helped It was never a page turner for me though, even though during the parts about the storm itself and some of the aftermath I certainly wanted to know what would happen with everyone I love maps in books and the included map was very helpful and I frequently referred to it, but many places mentioned were not on the map I d have loved 2 maps, the one included and a much detailed map in addition While I liked all the background information, the amount devoted to weather in general, other things going on, including politics and some weather events on the east coast post blizzard, for me there was just a tad too much of that They were interesting but for me took me out of the story a bit I d have rather done my own research and read other books to get that much detail This is a minor quibble because some of that information was helpful to put the blizzard and its effects into context, but while I usually like detail some of the minutiae bored me What I liked much less or not at all were several things It s really choppy Each individual s story is told a bit at a time and interspersed with many others stories Sometimes that s an effective technique for me and it should have worked here when the story was being told chronologically, but I found it annoying and confusing at times I felt that there was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the readers emotions and it often read as a thriller This account stands on its own and I don t think it needed the extra drama or suspense I didn t like being led to firmly believe certain people must have died only to have them survive or vice versa There was too much of that A straight story would have worked best for me I know this was well researched and accounts of survivors were used but, and this is one of my pet peeves in non fiction when certain things just can t be known, I think there is too much about the actions, motivations, thoughts, and feelings of those who died who weren t with any witnesses who survived Of course as I read I thought that a lot but then it turned out some of them were survivors, but not all I was so glad that one person survived who I d given up for dead view spoiler Walter hide spoiler READ EBOOK ♻ The Children's Blizzard ⚖ A Masterful Portrait Of A Tragic Crucible In The Settlement Of The American Heartland The Children S Blizzard Of 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 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 , 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 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 I have heard of this before the blizzard that killed over 200 children and adults Settlers coming from Europe to the Dakotas for the opportunity to own land and for some being able to practice their own religions, such as the Quakers and Mennonites MAny lost children on the way over in the ships, and many arrived to late to plant for that season and lost children to starvation MAny had only flour and would make a burnt flour soup, containing only flour and water Heartbreaking The relief socialites tried to help, but there were so many that were needy Weather forecasting at that time was basically non existent, they were not allowed to mention the word tornado and did not believe a hurricane would ever touch their coasts They were happy if the weather was right occasionally The immigrants were not familiar with the climate nor the soils and most had used of their funds just to get here The children who walked to school, walked over a mile among prairies that were so tall that some got lost When the snow hit they were not warned, and many were lost in the snow that piled up so quickly Some of the teachers managed to get their students to safety but by the time the snow let up between 2 and 3 hundred people were dead Hardy people and a heartbreaking story. This book was reviewed in our local newspaper several years ago, and I cut out the article thinking it would be an interesting read I happened upon it in a museum bookstore, recognized the title, and brought it home I live in Nebraska, the setting for this terrible and true weather story and I had heard of the blizzard of 1888 when I took a tour of our state capitol some years back I seem to remember there is some art work depicting this tragic event in the capitol building.The author is meticulous in his research, and you get to know half a dozen immigrant families really well by the end of the book He traces their family histories from the old world to the new, and sets the scene in minute detail Life on the prairie was hard, and weather was always the thing that could unravel the dreams of stability and prosperity But this storm was different Cutting a wide swath across the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Minnesota it left hundreds dead many schoolchildren who were caught in the blizzard on their way home from school This book is very engaging and provides a slice of history that is unique the history of weather forecasting Once a responsibility of the US Army, we see that politics and bureaucracy were no different in the 1880 s than they are today It is sad to think that the system was unable to deliver warning to the populace of the impending storm The toll was so terrible that at least one historian mused that perhaps it was a mistake to encourage people to homestead on the prairie Nebraskans and prairie dwellers and all lovers of history will appreciate this suspenseful and unforgettable blizzard story. This is a powerful story, of an event little known outside the Upper Midwest This is the story of a freak blizzard of incredible intensity, that left hundreds dead, many of them school children trying to make their way home from country schools.I ve always been interested in the late 1800 s, perhaps because of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was young The stories of the families told here are very moving The technical information about the formation of the weather system occasionally made my eyes cross a bit, but I enjoyed most of the weather info as a scientific backdrop to a very human drama.I am always amazed at the extremes the early pioneers on the prairies experienced, and astounded at the fortitude they displayed I find myself wondering if storms like this still occur, or if our technology has progressed to a point where we no longer find ourselves as vulnerable to these winter storms Would we see this as just a snowstorm today Or would we find ourselves to be just as vulnerable facing a blizzard like this today In The Children s Blizzard David Laskin explores the January 12, 1888 children s blizzard which devastated an area of the United States then known as the Dakota Territory It came to be known by this unfortunate name because of the high number of its youthful victims Laskin begins back in the Old World and tells of all the sacrifices, heartaches and struggles endured by the hardy folk who settled the Dakota Territory They had already left everything behind, spent all they had, lost children, parents, spouses, homes, crops, weathered multifarious storms, and harsh winters They weren t neophytes when it came to tragedy or hardship just the opposite, trouble was the norm with these people, not the exception They were Jacob Kurtz and Lena Woebbecke, Frederick Milbier and Miss Hunt, Addie Knieriem and John Jensen just to name a few Their individual and family struggles are indeed poignant and haunting.Yet when the storm of 1888 hit these people, this was something altogether different It came so fast and so hard and after a day of deceptively warm weather, it caught everyone by surprise, resulting in grotesque deaths and suffering beyond anything they had ever yet seen or hoped to see again The aftermath was almost as bad Although an exact death toll has never been agreed upon, it is estimated at somewhere between 250 and 500 On page 254, Laskin writes,Today a surprise storm that killed over two hundred people would instigate a fierce outcry in the press, vigorous official hand wringing, and a flood of reports by every government agency remotely involved starting with the National Weather Service But in the Gilded Age blame for the suffering attendant on an act of God was left unassigned Heroes were called for not culpritsNot that they did any better job of selecting the real heroes than we do today, if you consider that most of the real heroes weren t there to receive any type of earthly award During the 1880 s meteorology was just emerging as a science when forecasts known as indications predicted things like cold waves the term front was still 32 years in the future, coming only after a World War I soldier saw similarity between the two movements The Blizzard of January 12, 1888 marked a turning point in Dakota history There were other storms and other natural disasters, but attitudes changed after that The optimism was gone People had seen the land for what it really was Migration into the area leveled off after that and the great exodus began Although there have been a few small populations growth periods, for the most part, the area has never recovered, or then again, maybe it has A sobering but extremely well written book. I applaud Laskin for his effort it must be hard work to take an account of the scariest blizzard ever and turn it into a sloppy, sodden, boring mess.The blatant, sloppy mistakes early on were my first clue that all was not quite right in the state of Denmark For instance Laskin quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder s The Long Winter and mis identifies one of the schoolgirls as Laura s sister, Mary No, dipshit Mary was blind and she stayed at home Reading comprehension is key Laskin is one of those writers who feels like the reader should suffer just as much reading the book as the author did researching for it So everything is included Did you want to know about the beauty of 19 century wherever Here s 3 pages on it How about the weather forecasting apparatus of 19 c St Paul Have an entire chapter Really, all that crap is crap that I can forgive We all get a little excited over our pet subjects What pissed me right off were the choppy, inter twined narratives On page 135, we left Ella keeled over in a snowdrift, apparently dead on p 152 we join her again, resurrected and safe Page 136, five children walk home together it is implied that they live Page 161, all five children are dead And Laskin goes deep into obvious lies about their final conversations, their final thoughts, their final steps What arrogant presumption The graphic, horrifying detail of hypothermia and frostbite, gangrene and amputations was quite a surprise, after the gosh let s sit you youngins down and tell you a story about the olden days paternalistic tone of the rest of the book, which chapters of tedious meteorological detail aside seemed to focus mainly on Our Brave Little Soldiers and Our Good Little Women, all living in the makebelieve world of longago when everyone just did their part.Two stars for a whole lot of blah, blah, blah. When he looked up at the sky, Austin saw the snow descend as if it had slid out of a sack A hurricane like wind blew, so that the snow drifted high in the air, and it became terribly cold Within a few minutes it was as dark as a cellar, and one could not see one s hand in front of one s face January 12, 1888 dawned with unseasonably warm temperatures Children left their winter gear at home, and walked to school in thin cotton dresses and shirtsleeves Later that afternoon a storm ripped across Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota Teachers, many of them teenagers themselves, panicked Some tried to keep children indoors others fearing fuel supplies would quickly be depleted, sent their students home A few teachers tried to lead their charges to the nearest house only to be separated from them in the howling wind and swirling snow By midnight, windchill temperatures reached 40 below zero By morning on Friday, January 13th, than a hundred children lay dead on the Dakota Nebraska prairie In the author s attempts to explain the failure of early weather forecasters to predict this storm, and warn the settlers in its path, much of this book ends up reading like a meteorology textbook There are pages brimming with blustery details involving air pressure and cold fronts I have to confess to occasionally cracking open the pages whenever I needed a nap But then, midway through the book, the storm hits, and the results are devastating When the cloud descended from the northwest and filled the air with snow, they had no warning Unaware of the risk, they wandered out in pursuit of a single precious cow and lost their way between sod hut and barn Their fuel gave out, their roofs blew off, their animals suffocated Their children froze to death in the furrows of their fields.I knew it was coming I thought I was prepared to read about children dying.I was not Laskin is unrelenting in his descriptions of hypothermia He unstintingly relates the horrifying effects of frostbite He then imagines the last moments of these lost children s lives.There s really nothing to say This book is as hard to write about as it was to read O God, is it my fault or yours that I find my three boys frozen here like the beasts of the field Johann Kaufmann After that day, the sky never looked the same This is another book I read because it is required reading for one of the first year writing seminars I am the librarian for No, the librarians are not required to read along, I just like to This is the story of the sudden, devastating blizzard that came up almost without warning across the plains in January 1888 It came a few years after the long winter of Laura Ingalls Wilder s childhood.Laskin weaves together historical accounts from newly immigrated families, most of them Scandinavian or Ukrainian and horribly unprepared for a regular winter much less such a storm as this He discusses the history of weather forecasting, what the government was expected to provide, and whether or not they should have seen it coming Here s one weather reporter s account The air, for about one 1 minute, was perfectly calm, and voices and noises on the street below appeared as though emanating from great depths A peculiar hush prevailed over everything In the next minute the sky was completely overcast by a heavy black cloud, which had in a few minutes previously hung suspended along the western and northwestern horizon, and the wind veered to the west with such violence as to render the observer s position very safe The air was immediately filled with snow as fine as sifted flour In five minutes after the wind changed the outlines of objects fifteen 15 feet away were not discernible I was a geeky kid who held her NOAA pamphlets close to her chest and pretended to be in hurricanes and tornados and floods, in the northwest where we might get a flood but never anything else So for me, the history of weather prediction and reporting was really interesting Remember the super cyclones in the movie The Day After Tomorrow that seem so ridiculous and impossible There are descriptions of similar freezing wind patterns that simultaneously pull down the cold wave of air and turn snow into instant powder, creating death masks of impenetrable ice for the poor souls who happen to be trying to find their homes The blizzard became known as the children s blizzard because it hit during the time of day many children were returning home from school, and several hundred died, often just outside their home or school If you re squeamish the detailed descriptions of freezing to death may not make this the book for you.One thing that I feel the author left out, and maybe there are other books that talk about this , but he doesn t mention the thousands of indigenous populations that surely would have been effected by this and other storms Most of the people in the book were recent immigrants, and it is possible he stuck to what he could find in the written record But ever since then, I ve been thinking about extreme weather situations, wondering what the various tribes did in these cases Someone point me to a book