The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
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The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since.
Timothy Egan’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, “the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respect” (New York Times).

In an era that promises ever-greater natural disasters, The Worst Hard Time is “arguably the best nonfiction book yet” (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.

Customer Reviews:

  • History brought to life
    I'm not normally a history reader, but lately recommendations have led me in that direction- and I'm not sorry. Uncovering gems like this one through Amazon's recommendation feature is a great pastime.

    The Worst Hard Time delivers a thorough account of life in a tiny American town, Dalhart, Texas, where the inhabitants have been sold a bill of goods - or rather a deed of land. The people here - and for miles and miles around, in corners of several states - force wheat out of the dry ground to make a living, and then as profits get slimmer, they strip more grass to grow more wheat - until the land has left the ground, quite literally, and ascended into the air in terrifying dust storms.

    It's a piece of American history which seems peculiar until we realize how relevant it is: today's combination of economic mayhem and ecological struggle may give rise to events like this - Hurricane Katrina may be considered an existing example.

    But the reasons to read this book are not political or academic. Frankly, it's just a hell of a yarn, a fast-paced, character-filled story from one end to the other, and I blew through it in a couple of afternoons. Spectacularly written....more info
  • And the wind hits heavy on the border line...
    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. Egan did however cover the impudent rules that society and the government advocated, which encouraged the settlement and farming of the land west of the 100th meridian which was the root cause of the dust bowl.

    Egan tells the story of the worst hard times through the eyes of those who experienced it, via interviews with them, or their children, accompanied by surviving diaries and the newspaper stories of the day. He doesn't say how or why he selected certain people, but I felt that they were a representative sampling, from Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Of the stories that were particularly memorable, I found the ones of the "Volga Germans" who settled in Shattuck, OK. They had been recruited by Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (who was actually German) to settle on the Volga river. They were given incentives to do so, like exemption from conscription. When these were removed, 150 years later, by Czar Alexander II, they left in mass, and settled in the USA. The epicenter of Egan's stories, and no doubt research, seemed to be Dalhart, Texas, in the northwest corner of the panhandle. The author starts his book with the story of Bam White, part Indian, whose horses could not carry his family any further south into Texas, so he had to stop in Delhart. Bam was in the most famous movie made about the dust bowl, and was shunned by much of the population of the area for this role. Another very memorable character from Delhart was the indominable promoter and newspaper editor, John L McCarty. He was a founding member of the "Last Man Club," pledging that they would never leave, a pledge that he broke, when "he got a better deal." I also found the stories of set in the Oklahoma panhandle, which was once called "no man's land" also quite illuminating.

    I read a few of the 1-star reviews, found their criticism of little merit. One did not like the endless stories about the dust storms, which I found a strength of the book. Egan explained well the whole trajectory of the area's residents from hope and defiance through resignation and defeat. As Egan says on p 242: "The problem with history was that it was written by the survivors, and they usually wrote in the sunshine, on harvest day, from victory stands."

    Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" was the catalyst for a trip to Garden City, Kansas a year ago, to see the feedlots there. Pollan declares that afterwards it would take "a supreme act of forgetting to ever eat meat again." On the way, I drove through Dalhart, and on the way back, I drove through Boise City, OK (named, as Egan points out, after the French word, "bois," for woods, of which there are none except in the fevered imagination of the real estate promoters.) I stopped in Keys, OK, and photographed the still extant devastation, the abandoned houses, and shuttered businesses. Egan's book will force a return trip, now that he has helped me "see" what I was oblivious too the last time.

    On last year's trip it was quite apparent that both the panhandles of OK and TX continue to struggle, yet the area around Garden City, KS seemed relatively prosperous. Sadly, Egan explains some of this in his epilogue: "So cotton growing, siphoning from the Ogallala (underground reservoir) get three billion dollars a year in taxpayer money for fiber that is shipped to China, where it is used to make cheap clothing sold back to American chain retail stores like Wal-Mart. The aquifer is declining at a rate of 1.1 million acre-feet a day... In parts of the Texas Panhandle, hydrologists say, the water will be gone by 2010."

    Plus ca change...

    Egan's book certainly deserves the National Book Award. An excellent, informative read.
    ...more info
  • The Worst Hard Time
    I could not put this down. It is a compelling story of courage and strength shown by the farmers and town's citizens of the southern plains in the midst of the great dust storms and economic depression of the 1930's. This is a piece of American history everyone should learn about....more info
  • "The OTHER Great Depression"
    I was born in 1935 in South Dakota, sort of a northern border of the Dust Bowl. The economic effects of the Depression and the Dust Bowl were part of my childhood. However I never knew the physical effects of this terrible manmade catastrophe on the eastern seaboard nor the ships in the Atlantic. What devastation! The documentation of the author is superb. I've awakened to a new realization of background of my early years on the prairie....more info
  • Compelling history of Dust Bowl
    This is an excellent book about the Dust Bowl and those who stayed behind to survive it. The details are vivid and well-researched, and the book is beautifully written. I've been recommending it to all my friends; for me it's an unforgettable, gripping look at the past with lessons for the present and future....more info
  • very interesting& informative
    Really enjoyed this book on the history fo the Dust Bowl. I've always herd about it but didn't know the whole story leading up to the "cause" of it. ...more info
  • The Worst Hard Time
    Excellent book; if you want to know what the "Dust Bowl" was all about - how it happened, how people coped, how it affected everyday life - this is the book for you. Fascinating....more info
  • Disaster on the Great Plains
    There can be no more powerful, saddening cautionary tale concerning a prolonged weather event in the history of the United States than this finely written book. Whether caused by mismanagement, a decade-long drought of epic proportions, simple bad luck, or any combination of the three, the tragedy of the Dust Bowl has been concisely and passionately examined here.

    Meticulously researched,THE WORST HARD TIME takes us to an area of America, and a time frame, that would not make it on the Most Scenic lists; a stripped landscape, sere and hard-hearted, peopled by diehards and those who cannot get away, trapped by circumstance and poverty. The Dust Bowl became a reality in the 1930s, after decades of poor judgment and greedy opportunists. In 1879, in the first big boom of resettlement, there were ten million acres of the Plains put under the plow. By 1930, it had escalated to 100 million; and a delicate ecosystem that the native tribes - unceremoniously removed from their homeland - had successfully managed to exist upon for thousands of years, was destroyed, never to recover. The skin of the earth, held together for eons by grama, bluestem and buffalo grass, was torn from the underlying earth, and in a drought that lasted ten years, the earth blew away in some of the most spectacular dust storms on record. Dust from the Plains settled on desks in the White House; was blown two hundred miles out to sea, to land on ships; and piled irrepressibly around and on the homes of the "nesters", as the Plains homesteaders were called.

    Timothy Egan, the author of this book, brings to life a time and place that needs to be remembered, in this age of our own discussions about shortages and high prices. I cannot imagine going for even a few weeks without money coming in from a paycheck; there were people in those days who saw nothing in the way of a paycheck for more than four years. They survived on a plethora of rabbits; on innovative uses for found plants (some of them learned to eat tumbleweeds); and over the course of a long and punishing drought saw everything they had worked for and loved whittled away from them, including their children, who were brought down by "dust pneumonia", a malady caused by breathing in the ceaseless dust.

    Why did they stay? Certainly some of them did not (remember the Grapes of Wrath? that was Dust Bowl related). Many attempted to migrate to California, where they discovered they were not wanted, or other places where they heard there was work. Those who stayed were an amalgam of America; immigrants who had decided that, hell or high water, this was where they would make their stand; down-and-outers who initially thought they'd found a home place and then couldn't leave because of destitution; and old-timers - cowboys and other leftovers - who couldn't imagine living anywhere else, even in very reduced circumstances.

    This book should be required reading in at least any soil-conservation college course, and very nearly should be required reading in any number of other categories, from high-school level forward. It is thoughtfully constructed, and presents the technical aspects of what went wrong - and what steps were taken to correct it - along with a number of ongoing sagas of the people involved, from all levels. The pathos and heartbreak of the mothers and fathers merely trying to keep going, and to keep the dust out of the houses, at times made me want to cry. Too little was done too late for some - and the Plains are still in recovery.

    Highly, highly recommended for all who like a tale of disaster well told, and for any and every history buff. One of the best books I have read in ages....more info
  • Fascinating and Educational
    Timothy Egan's narration brings history alive concerning the dustbowl and the worldwide depression. His following of individual stories and towns helps to keep the story on track. It has prompted me to order another Egan book, he is such a wonderful writer....more info
  • WE didnt know it was this bad
    I was just a kid and I enjoyed those dust storms because they let school out...more info
  • A Cautionary Tale
    This finely written history of the Great Plains and the catalysm that consumed them is well worth reading. Tim Egan interviews the last survivors of this dark era and follows their stories from beginning to end. It's a cautionary tale about American greed, short-sighted government policies, and nature's payback for human abuse of the land. Amazing facts are given, particularly about Black Sunday and the massive dust cloud that made its way from the midwest to Chicago and New York City. Only through FDR's intervention was the tide turned, but even today, there are still remnants of the uprooting of the Plains. One wonders what's in store for us as we blindly pursue our lifestyles that depend on oil consumption, global warming, and constant destruction of the environment. ...more info
  • An incredible story - very well told
    It took me next to no time at all to read this book, and I was sorry when it ran out of pages. Before reading this book I frankly had no idea whatsoever what people in the Dust Bowl went through - what an unbelievably harsh and cruel time it was to be alive under those circumstances. The fact that global economics and simple human greed conspired to play such a large part in the creation of this immense social and ecological disaster should be an eye-opener to those observing similar trends in our own world. Sadly, history is too little studied and even less understood in our world to serve as the warning signal it should. This book is amazing....more info
  • ENGROSSING BOOK, A LITTLE REPETITIVE
    This book (audio version) captured my attention. It had an important story to tell about the unbelievable austerity of the dustbowl era. It also had a clear warning for the future of this country both in terms of the dire consequences of rapid depletion of the environment and economic extravagance.

    The book did, however, tell the same story a bunch of times....more info
  • Makes a wonderful gift for anyone especially the younger generations
    After reading this book and remembering the times back then, I bought other copies of it as gifts for family members and friends. I lived through that time in the gemeral area discussed and want the younger generation/s to know more about that almost unbelievable era. We were more fortunate than many as I remember we had a larger variety foods. These were mostly limited to dried pinto beans, dried blackeyed peas, cornbread, oatmeal and milk which our mother brought to a boil before it was used. That cow had been marked for death and a kind farmer failed to kill it as instructed by the government. This was a favor to our family of five children. This allowed us to have hot chocolate when we could scrape together enough money to buy cocoa and sugar. He also allowed us to live in an old house that had been used as a barn for many years. We survived thanks to that very good, kind man. Compared to those discussed in WORST HARD TIME, we were rich indeed. ...more info
  • Nice read but harsher than a duster on the farmers
    The strong suit about Egan's book is its nice, flowing style. It is VERY readable, and--like any good reporter--he always keeps his focus on his audience. I also like his approach (used by Ken Burns with his TV specials) of focusing on a few specific individuals to tell the story--such specificity not only keeps the reader's interest, but it brings his points home with force.

    Where the book is weaker is on its overall scholarship and its wide use of what is called "presentism," using modern-day standards to judge folks in the past, no matter if they employed different standards or were ignorant of modern-day farming practices. A glaring example of the former is his over-reliance of quotes from early republic sources (trappers, explorers, ranchers) that warned that the Great Plains was unsuitable for farming. His implied point is that "we were warned," and that voices had been raised against farming this land (See especially chapters one and two). The HUGE problem with this sort of analysis is that the very same people had said the same things about the San Joachin and Central Valleys, all of Eastern Oregon and Washington, and virtually ALL of the land between the Cascade Mountains and the Rockies! In other words, explorers from the wet and humid east had no clue what might be done to the land to make it produce (irrigation, etc.), and there are hugely successful dryland wheat regions ALL over the west! So the bare fact that early folks "warned" that such lands could not be farmed says nothing. Egan also doesn't take self-interest enough into account when using these warning themes: in other words, cattlemen had a strong and vested interest in keeping unplowed land just the way it was, it is HIGHLY doubtful that cattle ranchers were altruistic environmental activists more than they were normal, self-interested folks, wanting to preserve their way of life and status quo.

    Egan also lumps "precipitation" and "rain" together as synonyms, a gross error in dryland farming. Most if not all dryland wheat in the west depends on snow-melt sinking into the ground in late winter and early spring to nourish the wheat, NOT an even dispensement of "rain" throughout the growing season. On page 266, Egan makes the mistake of saying that "twenty inches of rain or less is simply not enough to raise crops." This is simply false, as there are many areas that raise good crops of wheat on less than twenty inches of precipitation.


    Second, Egan is way too tough on the 1930s' farmers, imposing standards on them that they could not possibly have known. Again and again he blames the farmers, and puts words and thoughts into their mouths without sourcing, to the effect that they "should have known better." Really? And just how could or would they have known better? There was no Soil Conservation Service, no County Extension Agents, no Farming Bulletins; these were people who were trying their best to make a living in a very, very tough place. Then, almost as an afterthought, Egan finally quotes the fact-finding commission (268) of the time, which did not blame the farmers because "they lacked both the knowledge and the incentive" to farm the land right. This is too little, too late, but Egan needs to heed the commission's advice: yes, the farming practices of the time were illly suited to the conditions of the Great Plains, and were part of the puzzle that resulted in the Dust Bowl. But the farmers were using practices both that were taught them and what they had used in wetter areas. Egan is way too harsh on them, and holds them to an impossible standard.

    That having been said, if one reads this book with caution, as providing some valuable and well-written PARTS of the puzzle, not the WHOLE, the Worst Hard Time is a worthy purchase. It DOES give you excellent and personal insight into the lives of those who lived in a very tough time in a very tough place....more info
  • Unforgettable
    "The Worst Hard Time" is one of those rare books that lives up to its dramatic subtitle: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. The author recounts the astounding events of that led to America's worst environmental disaster by looking at the lives of about 10 families who suffered through the droughts and dust storms of the 1930s. His fact-gathering is extensive, and his retelling accords honor to those who stayed through unimaginable hard times.

    The book serves as a lesson about the hubris of humans, and of Americans in particular. In the 1870s and then again in the 1920s, Americans poured into the Great Plains, intent on using the land for their advantage. By taking only a short-term, selfish perspective, they ruined the world's largest, most lush grassland. First, it was the cattle ranchers who came in the late 19th century, pushing out the Indians, killing tens of millions of buffalo, and fencing in huge cattle ranches. When that proved decently profitable, railroads began to criss-cross the region to ship beef to the populations on either coast. Greedy railroad speculators and real estate agents encouraged farmers to move to the plains, so they would populate railroad stops. A land rush ensued in the 1920s that doubled, tripled, and quadrupled populations in many counties in a matter of a few years. Then, all those people decided to grow wheat, corn, and alfafa on the grasslands.

    The plowing of those grasslands worked temporarily. But it was a mirage. The Great Plains average only about 10-15 inches of rain per year, or far below the 20-plus inches that are a bare minimum for farmland crops. A few lush years in the 1920s tricked everyone into believing the impossible: that the plowed grasslands would be endlessly fruitful. When the droughts returned in the early 1930s -- a common cycle over millenia -- the grasses that held the dirt in place were gone. And the dirt began to blow.

    The middle of the book describes the slow decline of the farms and then the shocking, sudden occurrence of masssive dust storms, of a sort never witnessed by humanity. Page after page describes the indescribable: how people and animals and plants tried to survive through storms that literally blotted the sky and buried cars overnight. Through the use of diaries, interviews, newspaper research, and newsreels, the author explains what it felt like to live in a desolate area without any crops, without any jobs, without most modern conveniences -- a place where the sky rained mud instead of water -- year after year. And in the concluding chapters, he serves up a lesson in humility, first reluctantly acceeded to and then embraced by many of those who stayed in the area, to changing their farming practices and to work together to preserve what was left of the land and their way of life.

    Yet, it's a story that isn't finished. The counties in the middle of the Dust Bowl still have populations below half of their peaks in the 1930s, and life is still hard (and is dependent on massive federal subsidies and handouts).

    For a real lesson in "lost" U.S. history, read this book. And then take a drive through the Oklahoma Panhandle on your next trip across the country.
    ...more info
  • A remarkably good book
    Timothy Eagan is an excellent story-teller and he tells this story using the words of people who lived in this region though this extraordinary environmental (and financial) disaster in American history.

    Our book club read this last fall (2008) as the environmental and financial disaster of our own time was unfolding around us and the echos from that earlier time were hard to miss.

    One might expect this to be a dry (no pun intended) and fairly boring topic but in Mr. Eagan's capable hands the time period comes alive with all of its stunning hardships and desperation intact. Read this book - you will not regret it.

    ...more info
  • the worst hard time.
    I couldn't stop reading , I was born in Lamar Colorado in 1934 I can still remember the dust.....Thank you for putting it in words....more info
  • The Worst Hard Time
    A very interesting read, Book in great condition just as the seller had predicted. It was packaged and shipped on time and excellant shape.
    ...more info
  • Will we never learn?
    All praise for Egan's book is deserved. The real horror of it is that in addition to land reclamation, the Dust Bowl has been partially brought back by tapping the Ogalala aquifer - a huge underground lake that covers several states and was established at the end of the ice age by melting glaciers. Now it is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. It's estimated that the water will run out sometime in the next 100 years. Apparently we've learned nothing from the disaster described in Egan's amazing book. We continue to rape earth's resources. The message of this book is in the epilogue....more info
  • Anthony Egan talks about this on WordSmitten
    After I read "The Worst Hard Time" I listened to Mr. Egan talk about the process for writing his book [..] and was more impressed by his research, his depth of knowledge, and I'm reading the book again. Thoroughly enjoyed it the first time, but now getting more out of it. ...more info
  • Any you think these are hard times...
    Spellbinding and unbelievable! This was when times were really hard. These are true pioneers. If you want to realize how good we have it after the depression, read this book, and thank God we have such a great country. A must read both for personal growth and historical value....more info
  • Great, easy read
    People will wonder why you, or anyone, should want to read a book called The Worst Hard Time. You'll try to explain about great swirling clouds of dust and most people will still not see the appeal. Nonetheless, it's a quick read and the author does a great job of making all of this quite interesting despite the obvious bleakness of the subject matter. I found myself drawn to a subject I would have gladly overlooked and it actually inspired me to learn more about some of the topics covered. If you can stomach the funny stares you'll get from friends and loved ones who see you reading this than you'll likely find it worth your while....more info
  • couldn't put this down
    I started this book yesterday and didn't stop reading except to sleep (after my drooping lids convinced me it was time) and work. I am amazed at the depth of knowledge stored here and how little I really knew of this place and period. My heart broke for these people; so brought to life were they. Read this and make others read it as well!...more info
  • Leather bound dictionary
    This item makes a nice graduation gift - particularly for the high school graduate going on to college. Because it is leather bound, it can be imprinted with the recipients name. Most book stores can advise you where imprinting is available. ...more info
  • Captivating and prophetic
    Seldom has an author brought forth a moment in time with such vivid detail, solid research, and compassion. The Dust Bowl is brought back to life in Mr. Egan's amazing hands. Drawing the reader back to dreadful time in Amerixan history that has much to teach the readers of 2009....more info
  • The Worst Hard Time
    The Worst Hard Time reveals the overwhelming challenges of the first immigrants who came to the Great American Desert to carve out a life. The descriptive quality of the text draws the reader into the horrendous conditions the settlers faced in their quest to survive. An informative story for any reader interested in the history of America....more info
  • Shows how little the people who run this country care
    Facing the biggest crisis since the Great Depression, this book should serve as a warning to us about how little those who run this country care for the lives of working people, farmers, and entire regions of the country. A whole region of the country was allowed to sink into total poverty, death, and destruction. Towns were abandoned, farmersm on what had been the richest lands in the world a few years previous, starved to death. As a teacher I hear other teachers tell me that with public jobs we are immune to the unemployment that is wracking the US now, but in this book we will read of teachers who were not paid for years, but kept on teaching until they were suffering from malnutrition.

    This is a book we all need to read because like in the 1930s Dust Bowl, we have come to a disaster from a busted capitalist speculative bubble that is destroying millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of lives across the globe. This book paints the degree of suffering not nature, but capitalist greed and the indifference of those with the wealth and power to help carried out.

    In saying this, as a writer, I enjoyed the prose. He gives the real story of people and families going through this period of history. He shows that despite the depths of the disaster and the inability of government to do anything about it, people, cowboys and farmers, teachers and storekeepers faced the dust bowl disaster with strength, courage, love, and solidarity...more info
  • Exceptional read
    Remarkable, must read. Timothy Egan is superb. The Worst Hard Time should be read by ALL....more info
  • Great Book
    I really liked this book . The author really did his homework gathering information about the people involved and the historical event also....more info
  • An absolutely magnificent work of history.
    I have read many books on history and biography. Egan's work is probably the finest of them all, bar none. To amplify this, after I finished reading the book I turned to page one and immediately read it again. It is that extraordinary.

    Egan did such a magnificent job that sometimes I felt as though I was reading Charles Frazier's prose instead of history. Yes, the storms came and continued coming for 5 years, but I found every page of his presentation of life on the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl captivating. The manner by which he interwove politics, culture, pain, misery, knowledge, ignorance, optimism, pessimism, the human spirit, the lack of humanity, etc. was outstanding. Yet making the reader feel emotionally and viscerally connected to the history is one of the more difficult things the historical writer can accomplish and Egan succeeded brilliantly.

    In my opinion, this is a must read for anyone who reads. Period. ...more info
  • Cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature
    Timothy Egan has written a first-class book about the Great American Dust Bowl. The story documents how government and business--even with the best of intentions--can facilitate the destruction of an entire region. Using actual stories of hearty survivors who persevered dust storms, drought and depression, Egan accurately recounts historical events with flair and drama. He makes history come alive by managing a rare accomplishment; educating while entertaining the reader....more info
  • The Worst Hard Time
    Excellant. I heard about the "Dust Bowl" but never imagined what it really was and how terrible of time in our history. This book really opened my eyes. Hearing the stories from people that survived that time makes me fully appreciate how we have it today....more info
  • Non-fiction that Reads Like a Novel
    What was the worst environmental disaster of the 20th century? Would you believe the over-farming of the southern Great Plains that led to the enormous dust storms of the 1930s? The biggest of these storms on April 14, 1935, which went down in history as "Black Sunday," completely blocked out the sun and contained more tons of dust and dirt than was removed to dig the Panama Canal. All of it airborne - clogging lungs, blinding cattle, burying homesteads, and turning the Great Plains into a lunar crater. Through diary accounts, personal interviews, and newspaper stories, Egan paints a vivid and personal picture of the people and places most affected by this ecological disaster. The book is fascinating - and penetrating. It's hard to imagine why so many people of Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska remained behind on what became a blistering hot patch of dirt. But they did. Egan's account is one of the best written historical novels, I've ever read. It's fast, it's detailed, and it packs an emotional kick. It's like stepping into a time capsule. The one weakness of the book, however, is Egan's failure to really put the disaster into the context of today. It would have been interesting if he spent more time on exploring how the disaster shaped the lives of people living on the Great Plains now. But otherwise, "The Worst Hard Time" deserves your attention.

    Literate Blather your thing? Then scoot on over to Dark Party Review....more info
  • I had no clue
    ...since I was born in the late 60's yet here in 2008 I wanted to know about the folks that survived during that period of time, how they lived and why it had all happened. Timothy made this real and "touchable" for me. Your heart breaks for these people, it's a very moving tribute. I came away grateful for everything in my life....more info