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July 8, 2014
9781421414508
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9781421414515
English
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v2.1 Reference

Sod Busting

How Families Made Farms on the Nineteenth-Century Plains

Prairie busting is central to the lore of westward expansion, but how was it actually accomplished with little more than animal and human power? In Sod Busting, David B. Danbom tells the story of Great Plains settlement in a way it has seldom been told before.

Stretching beyond the sweeping accounts typical of standard textbooks, Danbom challenges students to think about the many practicalities of surviving on the Great Plains in the late nineteenth century by providing a detailed account of how settlers acquired land and made homes, farms, and communities. He examines the physical and climatic obstacles of the plains—perhaps America’s most inhospitable frontier—and shows how settlers sheltered themselves, gained access to fuel and water, and broke the land for agriculture.

Treating the Great Plains as a post-industrial frontier, Danbom delves into the economic motivations of settlers, as well as the physically and economically difficult process of farm making. He explains how settlers got the capital they needed to succeed and how they used the labor of the entire family to survive until farms returned profits. He examines closely the business decisions that determined the success or failure of these farmers in a boom-and-bust economy; details the creation of churches, schools, and service centers that enriched the social and material lives of the settlers; and shows how the support of government, railroads, and other businesses contributed to the success of plains settlement.

Based on contemporary accounts, settlers’ reminiscences, and the work of other historians, Sod Busting dives deeply into the practical realities of how things worked to make vivid one of the quintessentially American experiences, breaking new land.

About the Author

David B. Danbom is a retired professor of history. His many books include Born in the Country: A History of Rural America, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Reviewss

"A fine recommendation for any American history collection."

- Midwest Book Review

"Danbom provides the reader with more than a conventional understanding of the region, whether it be pointing out some of the myths about homesteading or the role of the independent woman homesteader. Thus, it is an excellent undergraduate resource. Highly recommended."

- Choice

"An excellent introduction to the challenges and opportunities of agricultural life in a difficult region for farming... Danbom's Sod Busting is an outstanding survey of farm making on the Great Plains. This elegantly written, well-researched volume will find an audience with students, historians, and general readers. Those with an interest in Iowa history will find much useful information here that helps to explain settlement in the western part of the state. Anyone teaching or studying the Great Plains will want to add this book to their library."

- Jeff Bremer - Annals of Iowa

"In a short space, Danborn synthesizes the information that might be gained from a half dozen monographs. Undergraduates and upper-level high school students will find the work readable and useful."

- Alexandra Kindell - Western Historical Quarterly

"Danbom presents a cogent and engaging portrait of the real lives of those who settled the Great Plains... If you want not only solid history, but economics, geography, ethnic and gender studies, psychology, and sociology this short book will serve you well."

- Nebraska History

"This outstanding work is a masterpiece of both conciseness and comprehensiveness."

- Great Plains Quarterly
Johns Hopkins University Press
How Things Worked
From 13 To 17

9781421414508 : sod-busting-danbom
Hardback
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$44.95 USD
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