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THE DUST BOWL, a film by Ken Burns, chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.
|S01E01||The Great Plow-Up||18/11/2012||In the early twentieth century, thousands of homesteaders and "suitcase farmers" converge on the southern Plains, where wet years, rising wheat prices and World War I produce a classic boom. Millions of acres of virgin sod are plowed up. Caroline Henderson stakes her claim in a strip of Oklahoma called No Man's Land, and for a while prosperity seems certain for her and the families of two dozen survivors who provide eyewitness testimony. Then, in 1931, a decade-long drought begins, exacerbated by the Great Depression. Huge dust storms carry off the exposed topsoil and darken the skies at midday, killing crops and livestock. "Dust pneumonia" breaks out, threatening children's lives. And just when it seems things could not get any worse, in 1935 the most catastrophic dust storm in history strikes on "Black Sunday."|
|S01E02||Dust to Eat||19/11/2012||Following "Black Sunday," the crucible of dust, drought and Depression only intensifies. Many people on the southern Plains, including an itinerant songwriter named Woody Guthrie, give up and join a "migration of the defeated" to California. There they are branded as "Okies" and face vicious discrimination. Meanwhile, Caroline Henderson and her neighbors struggle to hang on to their land. Franklin Roosevelt's administration attempts to help them through New Deal programs aimed at preventing the breadbasket of America from becoming a Sahara. Survivors recount their families' desperate times, their joy at the rains' return, and the lessons learned--and sometimes forgotten--from the Dust Bowl.|
|S01E03||Reaping the Whirlwind||19/11/2012||As the Great Depression continued into 1935, the inhabitants of the southern Plains also had to contend with "black blizzards", violent dust storms that wiped out crops and livestock. They felt their plight had been forgotten by President Roosevelt as the drought intensified and many decided the only solution was to leave their homes and head for a land with plentiful water and work.|
|S01E04||The Hardy Ones||19/11/2012||With the dust storms still ravishing their land, their homes and their family, many of those affected had a tough decision to make; leave in search of a better life or stay and face the seemingly never-ending storms. By 1936, nearly a quarter of the people living in the southern Plains had begun to leave, driven from their homes by the Great Depression and the unrelenting drought. Many headed for California, a land supposedly full of jobs and opportunity. Nevertheless, around 75 per cent of those enduring intense hardship decided to stay put and retain their land even though the drought was already in its fifth year.|