Soil Science In The News: “The Dust Bowl” by Ken Burns

Dust storm in Hooker, Oklahoma, June 4, 1937. Credit: Research Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society (via

PBS is currently broadcasting “The Dust Bowl” documentary film series by Ken Burns. It’s a series of movies about one of the most tragic environmental disasters to ever face the United States. The description of the films on PBS’s website reads:

THE DUST BOWL chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.

I wanted to bring attention to the series, and to the fact that anyone can view the film series at this website. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but if it’s anything like the other Ken Burns documentaries, I know it’s going to be good.

Here is the preview for the documentary:

If you would like to learn more about the dust bowl, I recommend reading the book The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Eagan (reviewed by me here), and also my previous posts The Shoulders of Giants: Hugh Hammond Bennett, and Erosion.

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