Set in the southeastern corner of Colorado, Douglas Sheflin's history of the Dust Bowl is a careful reconstruction of how US policymakers, bureaucrats, and farmers responded to ecological and economic crises during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Despite the breadth of scholarship covering the Dust Bowl, Sheflin maintains that we have yet to fully appreciate its long-term impact on systems of land use, agriculture, and federal policy in the region. To correct for this shortcoming, Sheflin extends the chronology beyond the 1930s and into the 1950s and ’60s. In so doing, Sheflin shows how World War II and its aftermath firmly secured structural changes that had been set in motion during the so-called Dirty Thirties and continue to inform US agricultural policy today.

Organized chronologically, The Legacies of Dust explores why farming on the Great Plains was so challenging, addressing three key themes in particular: land, water, and...

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