Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Reviews of Kansas Notable Books
Reviews by Carolyn Weeks, 2006 Kansas Notable Books Committee
Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women's Rights
by Diane Eickhoff
Generations of women spent their lives fighting for suffrage and equal rights for American women. Some, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, are icons of civil rights. Most, like Clarina Nichols, were part of that vast army of committed women whose labors took place on a more subdued and local level. A child of Vermont, Clarina Howard Carpenter Nichols, began her crusade for women’s rights in the East but soon pushed West to Kansas where she encountered the hardships of frontier life as well as the stacked-deck of a man’s world.
This well-written and well-researched biography of a remarkably gifted and resilient woman gives life to the struggle for gender equality. It has much to teach us about our past as Americans and as Kansans and as participants in that greatest experiment of all: democracy.
(This one is on order here in the library - I expect it by the start of January term)
Ogallala Blue: Water and Life on the High Plains
by William Ashworth
And you thought the oil crisis was the last word in shortages! You’ll never take water for granted again after reading about the vast underground aquifer that supports more than $20 billion dollars worth of agriculture, more than one fifth of the country’s harvest. The Ogallala Aquifer lies under the Great Plains and stretches from South Dakota through Nebraska and Kansas to Oklahoma and Texas. It is deep enough to fill Lake Erie nine times and it is being pumped dry at the rate of five trillion gallons of water per year.
The story is all here: the life of the plains and the legal, recreational, industrial and agricultural infrastructure that supports it. Ashworth details the origins of the Ogallala and its probable future unless reasonable action is taken soon. Kansans, take note, the economic, environmental and humanitarian implications of this problem cannot be underestimated.
Thank you for your reviews, Carolyn.