Great Plains Book of the Month

Each month the Center for Great Plains Studies features one book as its "Great Plains Book of the Month." We carefully choose books that are accessible and on topics of interest and importance for our region. They may be on any subject, of any genre, published within the last couple of years; occasionally we may feature a book published by or written at the Center. Mainly we want to bring attention to what we consider exceptional works both to learn from and enjoy.


February Book of the Month

Slavery on the Periphery: The Kansas-Missouri Border in the Antebellum and Civil War Eras

By Kristen Epps

Details: African American history, Civil War, Kansas, Missouri, Slavery

Publisher: University of Georgia Press, 2016

When the Spanish and French controlled the western and northern plains, slaves were important to the fur trade along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. After the Louisiana Purchase, southern slaveholding farmers moved in and created a world similar to Kentucky and Virginia. Epps makes the case that by the time Congress created the Kansas Territory in 1854, the region was "functionally a slave territory.” Slavery in the Kansas-Missouri territory in the 1850s was an everyday reality. African American slaves lived and worked in Missouri and Kansas. Slaves on the Periphery demonstrates how the eastern Great Plains was a crucial battleground regarding slavery. Epps is associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas.

“Building on a collection of nineteenth-century reminiscences of slavery in Kansas, Epps fashions an important account of African American efforts to challenge slavery and forge freedom in nineteen counties along the Missouri-Kansas border.”

— E. R. Crowther, Choice (American Library Association)

Slavery on the Periphery

Past Great Plains Books of the Month:

American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains, Dan Flores

A Chorus of Cranes: The Cranes of North America and the World, Paul Johnsgard

Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930, Karen Hansen

Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-Footed Ferret, David Jachowski

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor, Joe Starita

Natives of a Dry Place: Stories of Dakota Before the Oil Boom, Richard Edwards

Towards a Prairie Atonement, Trevor Herriot

Walking the Llano, Shelley Armitage

Barnstorming the Prairie, Jason Weems

Homesteading the PlainsRichard Edwards, Rebecca Wingo, Jacob Friefeld

Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology 1867-2017, Edited by Daniel Simon

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm, Ted Genoways