This book is the story of the January 12, 1888, blizzard that led to the deaths of hundreds of people—many of them children who had gone off to school for the day and then tried to get home after the storm began. It is harrowing in its deadly detail, but also a fascinating look at the early days of meteorology and the personal stories of immigrants to the Great Plains.
I picked up The Children’s Blizzard thinking it would be like The Long Winter that is part of the Little House on the Prairie book series. I recognize that Laura Ingalls’ books are a romanticized (sometimes fictionalized) account of settlers on the prairie, but The Long Winter remained a “bad, but not so bad” accounting of a stormy year until I read The Children’s Blizzard. David Laskin brings to life the hardships of living on the prairie in a way I haven’t read before. While any storm would be difficult enough to endure for the immigrant settlers scattered across the plains, this “storm of the century” was simply devastating.
I would recommend this book for nearly anyone, but particularly for those who grew up on the Great Plains, who are fans of Little House on the Prairie, weather geeks, and/or those whose ancestors were settlers on the prairie.