Laura's Reviews > The Children's Blizzard

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin
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's review
Oct 02, 2011

it was ok
Read from October 02 to 04, 2011

I am a huge fan of non-fiction reading, and I was super pumped to find this exciting story on a little known part of history at the used book store. As a life-long resident of the mid-west, I am certainly not ignorant to "blizzards" and whiteouts. I know how much they can inconvenience a person in the 21st Century, so I can only imagine what a disaster it was for those living in the late 1800s in their sod houses, reliance on crops they produce, and multi-mile walks to school.

This book was supposedly about the Children's Blizzard (also called the schoolhouse blizzard) (because all blizzards were named something back then- just look to Laura Ingalls Wilder to explain that) in February 1888. However, less than half of book actually focused on those events. Because this was a collection of first-hand stories, Laskin assumed we would need to be invested in each one of the players. This included (sometimes) excruciatingly boring family histories of each family, going back decades to their homeland. I understand we were meant to get an idea of how difficult life was for early settlers to realize the American Dream, but much of the information could have been summarized. For example, I surely couldn't be the only reader who didn't need to know that the "weatherman" they had at the time (which was admittedly a terrible job in his day) had served in X in the Civil War (after training under X during years Y-Z and so forth), and the poor fellow didn't get married until he was 32 (much too old to start a new life) and so on. (He did sound like he had a rockin' mustache though!) I might have been interested in what it entailed to be a weatherman during the day (training wise), but actually knowing 30 pages of his backstory made me skim (I'll admit it) and the details were never relevant at later points in the book.

My general feeling about this book can be summed up as such: The subject of the book was intense and fascinating. The book itself was not.
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