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.


June Book of the Month

Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America's Grasslands Since 1945

By David Vail

Details: Agriculture, Pollution, Environmentalism

Publisher: University of Alabama Press, 2018 

David D. Vail provides a distinctly regional view of agricultural health with his insightful analysis of the deployment of insecticides and herbicides on the North American grasslands. He argues that practitioners designed local scientific experiments, engineered more precise aircraft sprayers, tried to develop narrowly specific chemicals, and planted targeted test crops in their efforts to link the science of toxicology with environmental health.

"In Chemical Lands, David Vail incisively documents the complex relationship between sprayers, pesticides, herbicides, and grassland landscapes in America and Canada. For the first time, we can appreciate what was happening on the ground and in the sky through this thoughtful analysis of the sprayer’s perspective on the toxic chemicals that became intrinsic to American agriculture” 

-- Frederick Rowe Davis, author of Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology

Readers may also be interested - Vail, D. D. (2018). Farming by Rail: Demonstration Trains and the Rise of Mobile Agricultural Science in the Great Plains. Great Plains Quarterly, 38(2), 151-174.

Chemical Lands

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

Grasses of the Great Plains, By James Stubbendieck, Stephan L. Hatch, Cheryl D. Dunn

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, Ann Weisgarber

The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899: Art, Anthropology, and Popular Culture at the Fin de Siècle by Wendy Katz

Jewels of the Plains: Wildflowers of the Great Plains Grasslands and Hills by Claude Barr and James Locklear