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Oklahoma State University

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Book Corner Winter 2016: Author Kevin Z. Sweeney

Prelude to the Dust Bowl, by Kevin Z. Sweeney

Prelude to the Dust Bowl

by Kevin Z. Sweeney, '01

The University of Oklahoma Press published Prelude to the Dust Bowl: Drought in the Nineteenth-Century Southern Plains by Oklahoma State University alumnus Kevin Z. Sweeney in August 2016. The book takes a look at the historical significance of drought in the 1800s and how it affected the government’s response to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.


Sweeney, professor of geography and history at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, grew up on a farm in south-central Oklahoma. He earned a doctoral degree in history in 2001 at OSU.


In this eye-opening work, Sweeney reveals that the Dust Bowl was only one cycle in a series of droughts on the U.S. Southern Plains. Reinterpreting the nation’s history through paleoclimatological data and firsthand accounts of four dry periods in the 1800s, Prelude to the Dust Bowl demonstrates the dramatic and little-known role drought played in settlement, migration and war on the plains. The book provides new insights into pivotal moments in the settlement of the Southern Plains and stands as a timely reminder that drought, as a part of a natural climatic cycle, will continue to figure in the unfolding history of this region.


Prelude to the Dust Bowl: Drought in the Nineteenth-Century Southern Plains is available at



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Published by STATE Magazine Editor Elizabeth Keys, Winter 2016, Volume 12, Number 2


Uploaded on December 1, 2016