Baker910, January 3, 2013 (view all comments by Baker910)
This book reads like a novel. If you don't think you are a fan of non-fiction this is a great place to start. Egan gives a frightening portrayal of a period of history that, while referenced often, is not "new" to so many of us "fifty-somethings". It causes reflection on "the best laid plans of mice and men" and how even when something looks like a good idea, it can end up very differently.
Kate Ryan, August 5, 2012 (view all comments by Kate Ryan)
In light of the current drought in the midwest, this book is both timely and frightening. The settlers of the past, guided by the US government's desire to wrest the land from the Native , virtually gave away huge plots of land and encouraged farmers to grow wheat, corn, etc. So they ripped up the buffalo grass that had survived for centuries and planted their bumper crops and then hit a drought with killer winds that blew away the crops, the remaining top soil, and then the farmers themselves. This book serves as an object lesson and a warning. As we all anticipate the climbing cost of food next winter, we should learn from the lessons of the past. How does that saying go again? "Those who ignore...
jksquires, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by jksquires)
Reading this book gave me the perspective to realize that human beings can endure almost anything nature throws at them. The devastation of the Dust Bowl is hard for our prosperous, well-fed, and air-conditioned generation to imagine, but Timothy Egan reveals a time when mother nature threw Hell on Earth at the residents of a large area of the Great Plains. His accounts of the real people who somehow survived are told with such realism you can practically hear the wind and feel the fine blown grit.
Rainman, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by Rainman)
I spent Summers in a small West Texas town in the early 1950s when there was a worse drought than the one they are suffering now. The town of Merkel was on the edge of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which was worse then either of the others. I remember complaining about blowing dust filtering through closed windows, piling up on the sills. The book is a slice of history told through the voices of people who stayed, who witnessed the death of crops, huge clouds of dust that blew for days, burying fences, autos, houses and killing livestock. There is a PBS video about the subject, but it is only a preview compared to this comprehensive look at that "hard time."
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
"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."
by Chicago Tribune,
"Timothy Egan has written a popular history that masterfully captures the story of our nation's greatest environmental disaster....It is fascinating and emotionally wrenching, and you just can't stop reading."
by San Antonio Express-News,
"Egan's lively and incisive prose resembles a wild ride in a windstorm. The reader is quickly caught up in this terrifying juggernaut by Egan's perceptive connections between weather, politics, the economy and the people's suffering."
by Washington Post,
"Egan...offers dramatic descriptions of the storms that vividly recreate their apocalyptic fury. He really excels...in capturing the human suffering they inflicted."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Most Americans...have a generalized notion of the Dust Bowl experience....What they don't have is an appreciation of the detailed, slow, particular unfolding of it that Egan provides."
by Boston Globe,
"Egan has gone beyond statistics to reach the heart of this tragedy. The Worst Hard Time provides a sobering, gripping account of a disaster whose wounds are still not fully healed today."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"Egan has admirably captured a part of our American experience that should not be forgotten."
by Detroit Free Press,
"[A] fierce, humane account of the nearly decade-long calamity of the Dust Bowl."
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 in the darkest years of the Depression.
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