Date of this Version
Published in Environmental History 19 (July 2014), pp. 601-602; doi: 10.1093/envhis/emu037
Wishart’s command of the topic and crisp writing style offer great value to any reader interested in the plains frontier. The scholarly tone will likely challenge undergraduate students, but the book is well suited to the graduate level. The Last Days of the Rainbelt offers countless insights into frontier settlement. One example is that it was rarely the intent of those filing a Timber Culture Act claim to prove up; the goal was to get a loan on the claim and move on. Another example is that it was not only the scarcity of wood that made sod houses more common in western than eastern Kansas; different root structures of grasses and new plow technology were key reasons. Wishart has admirably succeeded in bringing to life a forgotten yet fascinating era.