The Children's Blizzard

The Children's Blizzard

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“David Laskin deploys historical fact of the finest grain to tell the story of a monstrous blizzard that caught the settlers of the Great Plains utterly by surprise. Using the storm as a lens, Laskin captures the brutal, heartbreaking folly of this chapter in America’s history, and along the way delves into the freakish physics of extreme cold. This is a book best read with a fire roaring in the hearth and a blanket and box of tissues near at hand.”  — Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City

Thousands of impoverished Northern European immigrants were promised that the prairie offered "land, freedom, and hope." The disastrous blizzard of 1888 revealed that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces they neither understood nor controlled, and America’s heartland would never be the same.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Baker & Taylor
Describes the deadly late-nineteenth-century snowstorm in the Great Plains that killed more than five hundred people including numerous schoolchildren, describing how the unexpected blizzard devastated generations of immigrant families and dramatically affected pioneer advancement. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins
Copyright Date: ©2004
ISBN: 9780061866524
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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May 05, 2019

This book has been most unavailable for some time and I'd still like to read it. Your catalog indicates you have only two copies of "The Children's Blizzard," but one is "incomplete/damaged," and the other one is "read-only" in the Central Library Branch. Based on the reviews, this is a history-based book and I recommend the SPL get another one. I put the book on hold so I hope I'll get a notice that it's ready for pick-up before too long.

Thank you very much.

Dora-Faye Hendricks

Apr 25, 2019

I had never heard about this blizzard (or David Laskin) until mention was made of it, and the recommendation of this book, on a Facebook page. Wow! Laskin writes a thorough, thought-provoking, heart wrenching, interesting, and even heart warming account of that surprise blizzard in 1888 that caught so many off guard. Even Laskin's detailed weather explanations are fascinating, yet easy to understand for a dense layman like me. I loved this book from beginning to end. The tragedy was without equal, from the people who knew the storm was coming but didn't quite get it broadcast, to the poor mother and her hysterical, agonizing laughter as she looked upon her frozen sons. I highly recommend this book, and David Laskin. I am now reading another of Laskin's books (about his family history), and it, too, is wonderful.

Dec 27, 2018

suggested by Nancy Getty

Jul 27, 2017

Very sad read. Hard to get through at times.

HCL_staff_reviews Feb 07, 2017

Recounts the January 1888 blizzard that caught the settlers in the upper Midwest totally by surprise. The day started unseasonably warm after a long cold spell, with children attending school in light jackets and many farmers working out in the fields. The blizzard struck just as the children were leaving school, resulting in the deaths of many children. The author uses family interviews, letters, memoirs, and current meteorology theory to create an interesting read.

Mar 10, 2016

Laskin confuses the blizzard of 1888 with the "hard winter" written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder in "The Long Winter."

This is the blizzard Wilder wrote of in "The First Four Years."

Jul 12, 2012

A comment on the hubris of people in the 19th Century (mirrored by the hubris of people in this one) when it came to nature and the weather. And it just goes to show how one miscalculation can have unforeseen and tragic consequences.

Jan 17, 2012

I wonder whether this is the same blizzard Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about....

Oct 06, 2011

This book was interesting to me because I was unfamiliar with the horrendous blizzard that hit Nebraska, the Dakotas and Minnesota in 1888. I appreciate the research the author did to educate the rest of us. However, since I am not interested in the intricacies of weather, some of the chapters were not interesting to me. I appreciated the human interest stories but because the author kept jumping from one story to another and back again, I had a hard time remembering who was who sometimes. And I was puzzled and saddened by the lack of any reporting of the Native American population and how the blizzard affected them. However any reader will be affected by the grief and mourning that accompanied the blizzard of 1888.

Apr 18, 2011

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin is a fascinating book about a powerful, freak blizzard that occurred in the upper Midwest of America on January 12, 1888. I found this an extremely moving, well researched book that caught and held my attention from cover to cover.

The author follows a few families that settled in this area that encompassed the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. Giving us the history and background of these families made what they endured through this blizzard all the more touching. Striking quickly and deadly, the blizzard became known as the Children’s Blizzard as so many school children were caught up in it. Either being stranded at school with their teachers or being sent out to find their way home. What happened to these children is both heart rending and, at times, miraculous.

Details on the scientific background of weather forecasting is given in simple terms which I found readable and helped to move the story forward. I was surprised at the knowledge that they did have in the 1880’s, but with a storm that approached so rapidly and was so severe, there really appeared to be little the Weather Bureau could do. Of course, that didn’t appear to stop a certain amount of fact spinning in the days immediately after this tragedy.

An interesting book that once more gives proof that nature should always be respected and when dealing with weather, it’s better to err on the side of caution.


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