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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by [Egan, Timothy]
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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Length: 353 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Egan tells an extraordinary tale in this visceral account of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl. But the plague was man-made, as Egan shows: the plains weren't suited to farming, and plowing up the grass to plant wheat, along with a confluence of economic disaster—the Depression—and natural disaster—eight years of drought—resulted in an ecological and human catastrophe that Egan details with stunning specificity. He grounds his tale in portraits of the people who settled the plains: hardy Americans and immigrants desperate for a piece of land to call their own and lured by the lies of promoters who said the ground was arable. Egan's interviews with survivors produce tales of courage and suffering: Hazel Lucas, for instance, dared to give birth in the midst of the blight only to see her baby die of "dust pneumonia" when her lungs clogged with the airborne dirt. With characters who seem to have sprung from a novel by Sinclair Lewis or Steinbeck, and Egan's powerful writing, this account will long remain in readers' minds. (Dec. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Following the fortunes of representative settlers of the southern Great Plains, Egan's narrative of the dust bowl during the Depression begins with the seeds of environmental disaster. The area was the last tract of the continental U.S. to be homesteaded, the last episode of open-land real-estate showmanship that enticed people to start over. "Settlement was a dare," writes Egan, a dare of plowing rain-sparse, blustery grassland. And briefly, around World War I's inflated grain prices, the dare paid off: towns materialized on the horizon, homesteaders such as Bam White moved in, cheered on by boosters like John McCarty, editor of the Dalhart Texan. "Every man a landlord" was the slogan of the era, a banner of optimism that eroded into despair due to dust storms of relentlessly increasing ferocity. In vivid fashion, Egan reports on the grit, the drifts, and the figures bent against the gusts. All the elements of the iconic dust bowl photographs come together in the author's evocative portrait of those who first prospered and then suffered during the 1930s drought. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7057 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 1 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004H1UOSG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #117,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an extremely readable account of the southern Plains, which was a vast flat grasslands until pioneering Americans forced the Indians off the land, slaughtered the vast bison herds, took their plows to a 10,000 year ecosystem and destroyed it. The situation has some parallels to current-day concerns about global warming - it's amazing how blind people could be to the damage they were causing. The author has done excellent homework, including many interviews with survivors of those hard times. I would have given him five stars had his editor caught the many errors of grammar in the book - but don't let that stop from you enjoying a fascinating account of a largely forgotten disaster.
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Format: Hardcover
There wasn't enough here for a book. And it was too much for a single magazine article. (A series, maybe?) I found 'Worst Hard Time' lost its effectiveness at various points, made getting to the end more of a chore than I'd expected. However...

However, because I was totally unaware of this aspect of American history, my fascination with what Egan was relating, sustained me.

Aside from this, what I most got from reading the book was the haunting correlation between what was effected on the land back in the 30s (mindless arrogance, ignorance and pig-headedness) and the Wall Street meltdown of 2008. For me, this poignancy alone made it worth reading.

This is a stunning tale. Riveting in parts, depressing all throughout. Perhaps the most sobering element of all was this: 'Man never learns.' (And I used the term 'Man' intentionally, rather than 'humankind') Because I'd like to think we can learn something from the lessons Egan presents...but I doubt it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this after having watched "The Dust Bowl" film by Ken Burns. This book follows several threads of the history of that terrible time in greater depth. Well explained, highly readable, and very moving. A good book to own.
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Format: Hardcover
The untold story of the great dust storms of the 1930s that swept through much of the mid-west and southwest. The timing of the storms couldn't have been worse as they coincided with the Great Depression. Egan also goes into good detail in explaining the overuse of the land that led to the catastrophe that is known as the "Dust Bowl".

The book itself reads more like a novel or memoir than a history text. Egan provides anecdotes of people who lived through the storms recapping their experiences. Personally, I'm into pure non-fiction (just the facts ma'am) so the writing didn't particularly appeal to me. But the historical context was interesting to learn about. Finally, the book drags on after the first 150 pages as Egan explains storm after storm, gets quite repetitious.

I recommend reading the first 150 pages to understand this important event, the rest is non-relevant.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although mostly anecdotal, told through the stories of a few individuals and families, this book does give us a fair idea of what caused at least some of the dust storms. It's certain they did not "just happen," as too many have assumed! Human greed and willing ignorance of nan's potential to ruin an environment were at the root here, as with so many other "natural" disasters.
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