Stormy and dark, this reads like a family scrapbook you might banish to the far corners of the attic. Who wants to remember such hard times, captured here on hardened faces and in fear-filled eyes? Why dwell on such a troublesome blip in the triumphant narrative of American manifest destiny? Fortunately, Duncan and Burns don't hesitate. Their masterful volume accompanies a November PBS documentary about the environmental catastrophe brought on by fierce drought and heedless over-cultivation in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico in the 1930s. The authors have relied on interviews with some two dozen survivors, who tell of children going to school wearing gas masks and goggles to block out the dust. Once-grassy plains became lunar landscapes, bleached and featureless. The numbers alone are stunning. In 1934, the U.S. government spent half of what it had spent throughout all of World War I just to combat the drought. Toward the end of the decade, nine million acres of land had been abandoned-an area equal to Maryland. After this year's long, dry summer, as we face the prospect of rising temperatures, this is a story full of foreboding"