Dust Bowl, U. S. A.: Depression America and the Ecological Imagination, 1929-1941

Dust Bowl, U. S. A.: Depression America and the Ecological Imagination, 1929-1941

by Brad Lookingbill
     
 

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Whether romantic or tragic, accounts of the dramatic events surrounding the North American Dust Bowl of the “dirty thirties” unearthed anxieties buried deep in America's ecological imagination. Moreover, the images of a landscape of fear remain embedded in the national consciousness today. In vivid form, the aesthetic of suffering captured in Dorothea

Overview

Whether romantic or tragic, accounts of the dramatic events surrounding the North American Dust Bowl of the “dirty thirties” unearthed anxieties buried deep in America's ecological imagination. Moreover, the images of a landscape of fear remain embedded in the national consciousness today. In vivid form, the aesthetic of suffering captured in Dorothea Lange's photographs and Woody Guthrie's folk songs created the myths and memories of the Depression generation.

Dust Bowl, USA is a critical examination of the stories that grew out of the Dust Bowl experience. Across the nation, newspapers, magazines, books, films, and songs produced imagery of blight for local and mass audiences. As new technology, irrigation innovations, and conservation programs were introduced on a wide scale during the 1930s, the saga of the frontier continued to unfold through accounts of dust, drought, and desertification.

In piercing the myths brought forth in legends, lore, allegories, and anecdotes, Brad Lookingbill provides a revelatory insight into the history of the cultural narratives that have come to define an era.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lookingbill (history, Columbia Coll.) presents a synthesis of firsthand accounts of the Dust Bowl crisis in the 1930s from books, newspapers, photographs, films, and popular songs. Beginning with "conquest" of the land, the six chapters track the progression of the affective interface between humans and the Great Plains environment in light of the dust storms and related social and economic crises during the Great Depression. As a cultural narrative, this work is more literary than James Malin's The Grassland of North America (privately published, 1947) and more encompassing geographically than Donald Worster's Dust Bowl (1979). Exploring old and new explanations of the disaster, Dust Bowl, USA is an engaging and moving metanarrative of the region. It also contains an excellent bibliography. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Daniel Liestman, Kansas State Univ. Libs, Manhattan Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Lookingbill (history, Columbia College, Missouri) examines the journalism, photographs, books, films, and songs that conveyed to a mass audience romantic and tragic stories of the ecological trauma. The event, he argues, created a mythos of error and suffering in American consciousness that people are still coming to terms with. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780821413760
Publisher:
Ohio University Press
Publication date:
05/28/2001
Edition description:
1
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Brad D. Lookingbill is an assistant professor of history and director of the honors program at Columbia College in Missouri. He has published articles, encyclopedia entries, and book reviews on the American West and environmental history.

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