The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, going from sod huts to new framed houses to huddling in basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out. He follows their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survived—those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the grave—Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Egan captures the very voice of the time—its grit, pathos, and abiding heroism—as only great history can. Combining the human drama of Isaac's Storm with the sweep of The American People in the Great Depression, The Worst Hard Time is a lasting and important work of American history.
Egan's book The Worst Hard Time is very well-written and well-read. Since moving to Oklahoma a few years ago, I've become interested in stories of the Dust Bowl years and so ordered this book-on-CD. After listening to it, I watched the PBS:American Experience hour-long video about Surviving the Dust Bowl, and I really enjoyed watching Melt White's daddy in the brief excerpt of the movie, The Plow That Broke the Plains, that's talked about in this book. The book draws the reader into the horror of the lives of the people who lived through that era so thoroughly that as I would be driving in my car and listening to the story, I'd suddenly feel as if _I_ were choking on the dust of 70 years ago!! Now THAT's good story-telling!
Detailed and easily-readable history of one of our nation's worst times. A neglected history of our ancestors. Worthwhile reading.
Wow! Hard to believe we Americans were so stupid! This book was a fabulous tale of surviving a horrendous time in American history. Kudos to Timothy Egan for a story well told!
The devastating effect of farming and grazing on our natural plains and grasslands has not been extensively discussed as one of the greatest environmental mistakes this country has made and it should be discussed a great deal. the personal tragedies and heartbreak of the dustbowl, likewise, are something worth learning more about. This book really opening my eyes to a part of American history that I had heard only fleetingly about before.
Itís an intensively researched history of the experiences of the people who stayed in the 1930s Dust Bowl. It was fascinating. It was authoritative. It is THE Dust Bowl History Book. Egan interviewed as many survivors of the devastating agricultural event as were willing to speak to him. As a result, this history book is filled with personal stories of abject misery interjected with the hard facts: The political, the agricultural, the emotional. Itís quite a book. I donít know about you guys, but the Dust Bowl event was mostly glossed over in school, even in college in history classes for non-history majors. Yeah, I knew wheat prices during WW1 soared and farming land that wasnít a natural source of wheat production killed the prairie grasses. I knew those boom years during the war were the result of a few years of unusual rainfall. I knew people lost everything and moved away. I knew dust storms happened.What I didnít know was that those dust storms were so severe, they reached New York City from Texas. That animals died and their stomachs revealed they were stuffed with dirt. That centipedes came and stayed. Most of all, I didnít know people stayed, too. This book is heartbreaking. Itís about how communities rose and were dashed. How people suffered. How nature earth is always stronger than we are. I highly recommend it.