<B>The Children's Blizzard</B> Laskin, author of several previous books and a contributor to <I>The New York Times</I> and <I>The Wall Street Journal</I>, offers a fascinating historical reconstruction of one of the worst blizzards ever to hit the Great Plains. Unexpected and merciless, the storm, which came to be known as the School Children's Blizzard, occurred on January 12, 1888, and it pounded the prairies of Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, bringing with it hurricane-force winds and blinding snow, and leaving approximately 500 people dead. A large percentage of the victims were children headed home from school on foot. Laskin provides a chilling account of the fatal night of the storm; some teachers made their students stay at school and burned desks to keep from freezing. Many children got lost in the snow, surviving overnight only to die the following day. The inhabitants of the territory, primarily immigrants from Germany, Norway, Denmark and the Ukraine, were forced to rebuild their lives in the shadow of the disaster. Drawing on extensive research, including personal interviews and memoirs, Laskin recounts the stories of five families who experienced the blizzard, and he does so with an eye for the era, handling his material expertly and providing abundant, vivid detail. This is a compelling narrative about the pioneer spirit, the vagaries of nature and the human will to survive. <I>A reading group guide is available in print and online at harperperennial.com.</I>

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