Can't put down story of those who survived the American Dust Bowl years. Dramatic, heart-wrenching and haunting. Powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
This is a very well written book about the horrific dusters, "snusters", and government scams. It tells, in many of the survivors's own words, how people's dreams were shattered by many droughts and gov't greed. The land they were given still held an indescribable "pull " for most, however, even though it had failed them.. The resilience of the human spirit is felt very keenly.
The Worst Hard Time is a terrific read about a part of American history that many have forgotten or perhaps were never really been aware of. The parallels between what the nation faced in the 1930s and what it faces today are striking -- environmental disaster, bank failures, market collapse, unemployment, foreclosures -- and perhaps can better help understand and seek solutions to society's challenges.
One of the best historical novels of that era, from the perspective of those who "stayed behind" and toughed out the dust bowl years. I never realized to what extent they really suffered and the extreme weather conditions as a result of the raping of the plains. Recommended for anyone who wants to know more about what they think they already know...
The despair of those who lived in the Dust Bowl area during the great drought is heart-rending. Imagine dust that filters into your food and clothes, into your eyes, and into every corner of your home day after day after day. Clouds of black, grey, yellow and red dust cover the clear blue sky and the sun increasing making drifts that cover the fences, homes, and cars. Death in the form of dust pneumonia stalks the lives of every family. Heat that is never-ending, moisture that refuses to fall from the clouds that do form and the years pass as the farmers of the area try to save what they can - often nothing at all except sometimes hope and belief that all will someday get better.
It is apparent yet today that those who stripped the land of its life-saving turf damaged the land for generations. The government did help a little by creating national grassland areas and encouraging conservation efforts but those who live there draw on the aquifer at a rate that depletes its life-giving moisture faster than nature can replace it. Does man ever learn to value and care for the land?
Egan enlivens the story with incidents from the settlers and the emotions of those who endured this harrowing time all the way to the end of their lives. Perhaps Hartwell's diary best describes the day-to-day life of those who lived with the unremitting dust storms. I found these stories some of the more interesting sections of the book.
I couldn't put this book down...the author is a journalist...good writer...well researched and a very interesting piece of our history...the grapes of wrath was based on this period. I highly recommend this to any history lovers. It read like a novel.
A gripping book about one of the largest natural disasters in American history, The Worst Hard Time tells the story of the Dust Bowl, its devastation, its human and environmental toll, and its survivors.
While this part of our history is known by most of us, you realize while reading this book that we all learn only the most superficial facts and details. This book made me wonder how it is possible that such a devastating chapter in America has been so overlooked and, frankly, swept under the proverbial rug.
This is *not* a dry, boring history book. I barely put it down. My heart would literally pound, and I was practically breathless at many points in the book. I felt as though I, too, was living through some of this - it was all too real. I felt fear, dread, panic, misery, and sorrow. My heart was truly with each and every person in this book.
I truly cannot say enough about what Timothy Egan has done for this horrific event. From its(mostly preventable and man-made) causes to its aftermath, he brings the reality, gravity, and significance of the Dust Bowl to light, at long last.
This book will stay in my permanent collection, both to loan to friends and to read again (and I rarely read books cover-to-cover more than once).
This book, though hard to read in the emotional sense, filled in the details missing from the history lessons given in school. Egan's use of diaries and other written words from those who suffered through this time lends veracity to the horror stories of the newspapers and politics of the past and the present. Those who suffered through the depression and Dust Bowl were certainly of hardier stock than most of us.
The book is well written, as was my first Egan book, "The Big Burn," and is a good reminder to all of us of our past history in the United States of America.
Andrea D. (lindygirle) reviewed The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl on
Helpful Score: 1
I thought this was an incredible book... we've learned about this period of American History in school, but this book gives you the complete story - what it was like battling the elements of this unfriendly terrain, losing loved ones, waking up coughing each day - all the little details that humanizes this time. Egan researched the topic deeply and is able to relay stories of real people as well as explain the science behind the dust storms and how the government (and every day people) tried to combat it. Great historical novel.
Thelma S. reviewed The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is an amazing look at a dark time in our country's not to distant history. We have all probably seen photos of the dust bowl, but this book gives you an appreciation of the massive scale of the dust storms, and the excruciating challenges faced by those unfortunate souls that lived in their path. The author provides graphic details to help readers visualize the 1,800 mile wide dust storm that went all the way from eastern Kansas to New York City and on out to sea. He pulls you into the claustrophobic sod houses where parents helplessly watch their young children die from dust pneumonia. Definitely a book you will remember long after you finish reading.
Susan (SG) - , reviewed The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl on + 25 more book reviews
The story Egan has to tell is fascinating, there's no doubt about it, and your heart breaks for the brave, hopeful, stubborn and desperate people who suffered through one of the worst ecological disasters of our country. But I'm surprised at how many of these reviews laud Egan as a great writer. He's really only a fair writer whose choppy, disorganized and sometimes hyperbolic writing style mars the narrative, and makes it difficult to figure out which of the countless people he seemingly randomly introduces will end up as the book's central cast of characters, and which will never be heard from again. I'm someone who rarely gives up on a book, but I quit reading this one before even reaching 100 pages. After that, I skipped around to find the "headlines" and read the epilogue, and that's it. A shame this fascinating and important story was not better told.
It was hard to read these first hand stories of life in the dust bowl and depression. Difficult to read, but rewarding as well, to know how strong the survivors were as a result. Should be required reading in school. I will read it again.
Excellent book. Full of information we never learned in school. Makes the era of the Depression very real and in describing the dust storms, you can almost taste the grit in your teeth. If you enjoy history or want to know more of why the dust storms happened, this is the book to read. I found many things that made me think that the people in this generation didn't learn anything from the misery in the late 20's and 30's. They tend to repeat history instead of learning from it.This is a book I will want to read again.
Wow! What can I say about the Dust Bowl. This was such a sad time in our country's history. I still can't believe that people actually survived and lived to tell about it. I was so sad and sickened to read about these people's struggles and severe conditions. I know I could NEVER live through that. It was just so unbelievable the state of the land, the weather, the dust, the government, just about everything that these people had to endure. Fact is truly stranger than fiction.
It was a great book and I'm so glad I read it. I think this one will stick with me for a long time. I had to rent the movie "The Plow That Broke the Plains." after I read this book on Amazon. I thought it was very interesting. People of the day said that it was propaganda. That may very well be, but I bet seeing this movie on the big screen educated a lot of people about what was happening on the High Plains. The moving pictures of this land were way more profound than black and white photos ever could be.
Amazing accounts of those that stayed behind during the dust bowl as opposed to the Grapes of Wrath story about those who left. Full of captivating stories on an almost unimaginable struggle. It's astonishing that anyone survived.
Wow. What an incredible book. It is well written. Once you start it, it will not let you go. I knew about the Dust Bowl, even heard snippets of it from my husband's grandmother--but this book makes it very personal. You get to view it through those who lived in it. These are the people who stayed--who held out hope when there was no hope that the land could be saved. The people who knew nothing else but how to live off the plains. For them, there was no place to run to. What a tragedy! And man-made at that. All that misery caused by human error and ecological ignorance of the time. It breaks your heart. It also makes me think of how ignorant we still are about the land, our water and air. What about Global Warming? Fifty years from now will another generation be reading about OUR stupidity and indifference to nature? It makes you think...
This book covers the Dust Bowl from before it began (1929-1930) 'til the bitter end. The author presents it as it happened. The Dust Storms speak for themselves. If you are wanting a light read, DO NOT pick up this book. If you are interested in the Dust Bowl, that time period, man vs. nature or conservationism, this book is for you.
After reading this book, I'm looking at all the land around me differently. Hopefully mankind can learn from our past mistakes.
I think this book should be mandatory reading in our high schools!
Now I want to go read more books about Hugh Bennett (a key player who tried to "rescue" the dusty plains) and FDR who tried to save the land and its people. That man had his hands full. The first book I'm going to read though is "The Grapes of Wrath," written about the mass exodus of people from the Dust Bowl, heading west and hoping to be able to work. Hoping to be able to feed and clothe their children and give them fresh air to breath.
I thought this was an excellent book--I kept it on my 'keeper' shelf. I really learned a lot more than was every taught in school, and learned that a lot of what we were taught just wasn't the case. Much more complicated an issue. Well worth the read. Well written. It really makes you think and look at what's happening in the world today with 'new eyes.'