Review by Choice Review
By using local sources, Riney-Kehrberg (Illinois State Univ.) presents a compelling discussion of how the economic depression and dust storms of the 1930s impacted the daily lives of the people of southwestern Kansas. She explains why some townspeople and farmers fled the area while others remained, and she shows how those who stayed managed to survive by dint of will and innovation. She recounts how ordinary people, nurtured on self reliance, turned to the national government for relief when local government was unable to provide it, but she shows that many actually made it on their own. While demonstrating what suffering meant to those down and out in America's dust bowl, she notes that contrary to general opinion farmers suffered more than their neighbors in nearby small towns. Farm size grew during the depression, and the region's farmers increasingly embraced irrigation as an antidote to the lack of rainfall. In this way they determined the future of what is today an agricultural economy dominated by irrigation farming. Riney-Kehrberg's study is an honorable addition to works such as Catherine McNicol Stock's Main Street in Crisis (CH, Nov'92) and Judith Ann Trolander's Settlement Houses and the Great Depression (CH, Oct'75), and it provides greater depth and increased understanding of what Dixon Wector began a half-century ago with his monumental social history, The Age of the Great Depression (1948). Upper-division undergraduate and above. R. S. La Forte; University of North Texas
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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