Imagine starting out in western Kansas as a young farmer in the year 1929. The economy is booming, the first crop of wheat is ripening beautifully, and prosperity is just within reach.

Then the wind begins to blow.

Farming the Dust Bowl

Farming the Dust Bowl: A First-Hand Account From Kansas by Lawrence Svobida is the narrative of a young farmer grappling with dust and drought on a Meade County farm. Through his eyes we see the terrors of living in a world of whirling dust. We envision the spectacle of blowing land, feel the blistering heat of the summer sun, and face the dangerous disease of “dust sickness.”

We also experience the practical aspects of dealing with the Dust Bowl, such as the farming methods used to battle the menace of shifting dirt. We learn about the shortcomings of FDR’s Agricultural Adjustment Act. And we see ways that the Dust Bowl might have been prevented altogether.

Svobida’s story is told simply and unemotionally, but it is nevertheless poignant. If you are interested in the history of the Dust Bowl, this book is a must-read.