The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: If this book doesn’t make you cry then you are a sociopath.

Quick synopsis: The story of the blizzard of 1888 in the Midwest which surprised the heartland and caused massive sadness.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Weather forecasting used to be much worse! And in the Midwest, it meant a massive snowstorm could come out of nowhere and leave people to die.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: While it is evident children are much more closely watched nowadays, this book brings you back to a time when even the youngest children might go miles by themselves. And it leads to the tragedy.

My Take: This might be one of the most horrific stories ever. This is not for the squeamish or probably for anyone with young kids. Wish someone could have warned me!

The blizzard of 1888 is mostly known as one of the worst storms the east coast has ever seen. However, Laskin tells the story of the blizzard at its nexus when it blasted through the Great Plains. Laskin gives a great recap of the then capabilities of the weather service. Spoiler alert: They sucked.

Laskin tells a masterful (and goddamn depressing) story by making you feel everything the characters are fighting against. This is one of those books where when the author tells you how cold it is you can actually start to feel it.

As I’ve pointed out, this is a really sad story. The blizzard came out of nowhere when the vast majority of children were on their way home from school (hence Children’s Blizzard). Needless to say, many of them never made it home.

Laskin does a great job with a terrible story and it is worth a read. Only if you can handle it, though.

Verdict: A must read provided you can handle the subject matter.

If You Liked This Try:

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  • Michael Wallis, The Best Land Under Heaven
  • Gay and Laney Salisbury, The Cruelest Miles
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The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin
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