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

Published: 2006-09-01
Paperback : 340 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 5 of 5 members
"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. ...
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Introduction

"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." ? 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 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 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 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.

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.

?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 can’t-put-it-down history.” ?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 subject?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." ?Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived

"Here's a terrific true story?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." ?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 places?and held on to their souls?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." ?Patricia N. Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West

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by jebrant (see profile) 04/09/14

 
  "The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan"by csheehan (see profile) 10/22/10

 
  "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl"by birdsinger (see profile) 09/18/10

Says so much about what we humans do to endanger the environment without thinking. Historical, but a timeless message.

 
  "Vintage Prose gives The Wosrt Hard Time a 3.0 out of 5"by dcokingtin (see profile) 09/01/10

Those who read or completed the book thought that for a history book this read fairly well. Using partcular survivors from did towns was a good way for the story to unfold. One member stated she could... (read more)

 
  "The Worst Hard Time-great nonfiction read"by debie (see profile) 07/17/09

I am a German from Russia. I am a second generation born American. And yes my great relative got out of Russia to avoid the draft. I don't blame him! But moving to the book, very informative and historical.... (read more)

 
  "america's dusty past"by memfry (see profile) 11/18/08

The book was very insightful and well written on a time gone by often not remembered.

 
  "Fascinating history of how the Dust Bowl disaster in the 1930's personally affected the lives of a dozen people."by billnesmith (see profile) 10/15/08

This book was well researched and written. Egan is able to turn scattered bits of information into heart-rending stories of the unimaginable hardships these people endured. All of us, even... (read more)

 
  "History with a good story"by sklewis (see profile) 05/08/08

A well written book that captures the history around the dustbowl and depression.

 
  "The title fully describes the book. Depth and breadth of the dust bowl years are fully described in a well written manner."by operalover (see profile) 01/21/08

More than half of the members of our bookclub rated it "thumbs up." As with most non-fiction books, the discussion focused on the subject matter rather than the author's writing, use of themes, etc. ... (read more)

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