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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

by

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl Cover

 

Staff Pick

A fresh, stirring look at the Dust Bowl and Depression, Timothy Egan follows the personal dramas of a handful of families, allowing their voices to reveal the environmental and human tragedies that rocked the nation. Grippingly detailed, this exciting yet compassionate work of history is difficult to put down. I enjoyed it to the last page.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 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 times— 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.

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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

"The Worst Hard Time is an epic story of blind hope and endurance almost beyond belief; it is also, as Tim Egan has told it, a riveting tale of bumptious charlatans, conmen, and tricksters, environmental arrogance and hubris, political chicanery, and a ruinous ignorance of nature's ways. Egan has reached across the generations and brought us the people who played out the drama in this devastated land, and uses their voices to tell the story as well as it could ever be told." and#151; Marq de Villiers, author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource

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 Prizeand#150;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 homes 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 deaths of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survivedand#151;those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the graveand#151;Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage. 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.

Timothy Egan is a national enterprise reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of four books and the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

and#147;As one who, as a young reporter, survived and reported on the great Dust Bowl disaster, I recommend this book as a dramatic, exciting, and accurate account of that incredible and deadly phenomenon. This is canand#8217;t-put-it-down history.and#8221; and#151;Walter Cronkite

"The Worst Hard Time is wonderful: ribbed like surf, and battering us with a national epic that ranks second only to the Revolution and the Civil War. Egan knows this and convincingly claims recognition for his subjectand#151;as we as a country finally accomplished, first with Lewis and Clark, and then for 'the greatest generation,' many of whose members of course were also survivors of the hardships of the Great Depression. This is a banner, heartfelt but informative book, full of energy, research, and compassion." and#151;Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived

"Here's a terrific true storyand#151;who could put it down? Egan humanizes Dust Bowl history by telling the vivid stories of the families who stayed behind. One loves the people and admires Egan's vigor and sympathy." and#151;Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

"The American West got lucky when Tim Egan focused his acute powers of observation on its past and present. Egan's remarkable combination of clear analysis and warm empathy anchors his portrait of the women and men who held on to their placesand#151;and held on to their soulsand#151;through the nearly unimaginable miseries of the Dust Bowl. This book provides the finest mental exercise for people wanting to deepen, broaden, and strengthen their thinking about the relationship of human beings to this earth." and#151;Patricia N. Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West

Synopsis:

The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since.

Timothy Eganand#8217;s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, and#147;the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respectand#8221; (New York Times).

In an era that promises ever-greater natural disasters, The Worst Hard Time is and#147;arguably the best nonfiction book yetand#8221; (Austin Statesman Journal) on the greatest environmental disaster ever to be visited upon our land and a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature.

Synopsis:

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains during the Depression, going from sod huts to new framed houses to basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out.

About the Author

TIMOTHY EGAN is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of five books, most recently The Worst Hard Time, which won a National Book Award for nonfiction, and was named a New York Times Editors' Choice and a New York Times Notable Book. He writes a weekly column, "Outposts," for the New York Times.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: Live Through This 1

I and#149; PROMISE: The Great Plowup, 1901and#150;1930

1. The Wanderer 13 2. No Manand#8217;s Land 32 3. Creating Dalhart 52 4. High Plains Deutsch 59 5. Last of the Great Plowup 73

II and#149; BETRAYAL, 1931and#150;1933

6. First Wave 91 7. A Darkening 103 8. In a Dry Land 115 9. New Leader, New Deal 128 10. Big Blows 136

III and#149; BLOWUP, 1934and#150;1939

11. Triage 145 12. The Long Darkness 155 13. The Struggle for Air 171 14. Showdown in Dalhart 176 15. Dusterand#8217;s Eve 193 16. Black Sunday 198 17. A Call to Arms 222 18. Goings 236 19. Witnesses 242 20. The Saddest Land 254 21. Verdict 265 22. Cornhusker II 273 23. The Last Men 279 24. Cornhusker III 293 25. Rain 303

Epilogue 309 Notes and Sources 315 Acknowledgments 328 Index 331

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

hondahak, April 12, 2007 (view all comments by hondahak)
amazing story of hardship, and hope, pointing out the
cruelty of one of the greatest hoaxes ever concocted by the railroads and federal government, for a better life.
SITTING BULL WAS RIGHT......
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(11 of 22 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618346974
Author:
Egan, Timothy
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin
Location:
Boston
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Natural Disasters
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Midwest
Subject:
Dust Bowl Era, 1931-1939
Subject:
Great Plains History 20th century.
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
December 2005
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 b/w photographs
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.81 in 1.3 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » Great Plains
History and Social Science » US History » 1920 to 1960
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$28.00 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618346974 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A fresh, stirring look at the Dust Bowl and Depression, Timothy Egan follows the personal dramas of a handful of families, allowing their voices to reveal the environmental and human tragedies that rocked the nation. Grippingly detailed, this exciting yet compassionate work of history is difficult to put down. I enjoyed it to the last page.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
"The Worst Hard Time is an epic story of blind hope and endurance almost beyond belief; it is also, as Tim Egan has told it, a riveting tale of bumptious charlatans, conmen, and tricksters, environmental arrogance and hubris, political chicanery, and a ruinous ignorance of nature's ways. Egan has reached across the generations and brought us the people who played out the drama in this devastated land, and uses their voices to tell the story as well as it could ever be told." and#151; Marq de Villiers, author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource

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 Prizeand#150;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 homes 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 deaths of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survivedand#151;those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the graveand#151;Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage. 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.

Timothy Egan is a national enterprise reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of four books and the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

and#147;As one who, as a young reporter, survived and reported on the great Dust Bowl disaster, I recommend this book as a dramatic, exciting, and accurate account of that incredible and deadly phenomenon. This is canand#8217;t-put-it-down history.and#8221; and#151;Walter Cronkite

"The Worst Hard Time is wonderful: ribbed like surf, and battering us with a national epic that ranks second only to the Revolution and the Civil War. Egan knows this and convincingly claims recognition for his subjectand#151;as we as a country finally accomplished, first with Lewis and Clark, and then for 'the greatest generation,' many of whose members of course were also survivors of the hardships of the Great Depression. This is a banner, heartfelt but informative book, full of energy, research, and compassion." and#151;Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived

"Here's a terrific true storyand#151;who could put it down? Egan humanizes Dust Bowl history by telling the vivid stories of the families who stayed behind. One loves the people and admires Egan's vigor and sympathy." and#151;Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

"The American West got lucky when Tim Egan focused his acute powers of observation on its past and present. Egan's remarkable combination of clear analysis and warm empathy anchors his portrait of the women and men who held on to their placesand#151;and held on to their soulsand#151;through the nearly unimaginable miseries of the Dust Bowl. This book provides the finest mental exercise for people wanting to deepen, broaden, and strengthen their thinking about the relationship of human beings to this earth." and#151;Patricia N. Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West

"Synopsis" by ,
The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since.

Timothy Eganand#8217;s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, and#147;the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respectand#8221; (New York Times).

In an era that promises ever-greater natural disasters, The Worst Hard Time is and#147;arguably the best nonfiction book yetand#8221; (Austin Statesman Journal) on the greatest environmental disaster ever to be visited upon our land and a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature.

"Synopsis" by , Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains during the Depression, going from sod huts to new framed houses to basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out.
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