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

Timothy Egan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 9.33 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618773479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618773473
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Worst Hard Time 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. Full description

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First Sentence
ON THOSE DAYS when the wind stops blowing across the face of the southern plains, the land falls into a silence that scares people in the way that a big house can haunt after the lights go out and no one else is there. Read the first page
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And the wind hits heavy on the border line... 31 Jan 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
Timothy Egan relates that it was a son of Kansas, Roy Emerson Stryker, who came up with the idea of creating a record of American decay for the files of the Farm Security Administration, and "...the government photo unit proved to be one of the lasting and most popular contributions of the New Deal..." Americans familiar with their history have the images taken by Walter Evans and Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression as part of their cultural baggage, and Egan expands that to the work of Arthur Rothstein, and others, who were just out of college, and told to stay in the "field", and get to know the people. The images of the immense ecological disaster that was dubbed "the Dust Bowl" are not properly honored with even the word "haunting."

Egan has written a magnificent, heart-breaking history of the "the Dust Bowl" area during the `30's. Much of the specific history was new to me, and thus confirmed Truman's dictum that there is nothing new in the world except the history that you did not know. I had recently re-read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath which Egan briefly touches upon, pointing out correctly that Tom Joad and his family came from eastern Oklahoma, whereas the true dust bowl encompassed only western Oklahoma. I felt Egan's one map, outlining where the area of the dust bowl was, most illuminating. Both Steinbeck's and Egan's books are damning indictments of so-called "market forces" unleashed without an overall structure of prudent rules set by society, as administered by the government.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece 5 Oct 2007
Through the 1920's, a farmer on the Great Plains could easily make a fortune compared to a factory worker in the city. Everything changed in the 30's for not only did the 30's bring The Great Depression it also brought drought. With the Depression, crop prices plummeted. With no flow of money there was no market to sell wheat. Farmers found that the money they could get for their wheat, when they could find a buyer, was not enough to pay the cost of growing the wheat. As their savings disappeared in failing banks and mortgages came due, the rain stopped. In the long term drought is common on the Plains but farmers had been fooled by fifteen years of wet weather. The crops died, the animals died, and the winds came.

Without the native grasses to hold the dried, cracked soil to the ground the dust storms started. It became the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. The Great Plains turned into a desert of deadly dust storms. The movie "The Grapes of Wrath" tells the story of one fictional family that fled the dust storms. The book, "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan tells the story of those who stayed. Egan traveled through the Plains interviewing those who lived through the Dust Bowl era and their stories as told by Egan are unforgettable. This is the story of Ike Osteen who grew up in a dugout on the prairie and lived through hundreds of dust storms. This is the story of Jeanne Clark whose lungs were scarred from the dust pneumonia that nearly killed her when she was just a child. This is the story of Melt White whose father was a cowboy on one of the largest ranches in the world and watched the Plains turn to dust.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of the Dust Bowl 3 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having watched the story of the environmental distater this book tells a compelling story of the world of those farmers fooled into belibelieving in the promises made by those who allowed them to be exploited
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By danny
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent read, gives a good feeling for the era of the great depression and dust bowl. Identifies the magnitude of the problems and provides insight into the unintended consequences of farming methods of the day coupled with the hysteria every financial boom seems to peak at.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dust Bowl 18 Dec 2009
I loved this book. All the contents are factual but the book is enjoyable like a riveting novel. I loved every word. The characters were human, big, brave and never whining. In Ireland today we have a "property" dust bowl (!). Same type of unthinking greed has driven a (small) country to the brink. Same players though, Bankers, speculators and the working man just trying to do better.
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