355 of 371 people found the following review helpful
MY BEST READ OF 2005,
This review is from: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Hardcover)
Beyond a doubt, this was the best of the books I read during this past year. Having had many family members who were caught up in this, one of the worst natural (actually it seems it was more man made than natural) disasters to strike our country, made this work of even more interest to me. Mr. Eagan has not only given us a wonderful account of this era in our nations history, he has made it come alive through his exceptional story telling abilities. This is not a dry (no pun intended), academic history of the great depression. Rather it is a history of a group of people who lived through the worst of it, the great dust bowl at the center of our country. These are real people and the author treats them as such. Very few meaningless statistics mar the story line, few government reports are offered or cited to reduce the human suffering to neatly typed pieces of paper. As you read this book, you come to realize that these people are just like you and me. You read and ponder "what if?" The book is quite readable, quite informative and one that I will no doubt give a reread to in the near future. Recommend this one highly!
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 19, 2007 12:40:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 19, 2007 1:03:40 PM PDT
D. Halcoussis says:
Statistics don't necessarily "reduce human suffering to neatly typed pieces of paper." Statistics are just a way of communicating, just as English is a way of communicating. Statistics can provide information, but they can also be used to mislead, just as the English language can be used to tell truth or lies. If you think the use of statistics somehow "reduces human suffering," that's your personal interpretation of the statistics. The proper use of statistics in a historical study of this type could convey the magnitude of human suffering, rather than diminish it.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2007 6:52:58 PM PDT
Good point. I could not agree with your observation more. My comment pertaining to statistics in this particular review was indeed a personal interprettion, in a way. I do agree with your statement that the proper use of statistics in a historical study could (actually, it usually does) convey the magnitude of human suffering, rather than diminish it. No doubt about it. What I was trying to convey through this reivew though, and apparently did not do a very good job of it, was the fact that the book did not read so much like an official government document, something I find extremely boring, although useful under many circumstances, but rather a story I could relate to, having had many family members caught up in these horrible times. Good comment though D. Halcoussis - You bring up a point we should all remember when reading history! Thank you!
Posted on Aug 24, 2007 8:06:43 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 13, 2008 2:22:34 PM PDT]
Posted on Apr 8, 2008 1:18:32 PM PDT
Living on the geographic edge of this disaster and traveling through the heart of the Texas panhandle on many occasions, I had no idea the hardships these western pioneers lived through. After this read, a conversation began readily with the "old timers" of the Texas panhandle. On a personal note, I am a "baby boomer" born in "47" in SW OK. However, I remember blowing red dust settling in our home during my elementary years. The "Federal Farm Bill" was born from this disaster. Did our Congress of the "Dust bowl years" envision this? On an air trip between OKC and Phoenix, I was sitting next to a "Silver Haired" couple. As we passed over the Texas panhandle they were so confused as to what the "circles" were on the farm land. It was so exciting to tell them about "pivot" watering and the giant 'aquifer" lying under the Texas Panhandle. I have traveled the world from my time machine in my reading cHAir. READING IS GREAT!!!
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 5:55:23 PM PDT
Old Crow says:
The problem with statistics is that they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Statistics can be manipulated to support any position the statistician desires. There's a saying in the data management world, of which I was a part for 34 years, that numbers don't lie, but statisticians do.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 7:24:46 PM PDT
Hi Old Crow: Thanks for stopping by. Your point is well made. I know that I should not be so skeptical at times, but every time I have a number of figures thrown at me a red flag goes up. I suppose part of my problem is that while I did take a number of courses in statistics in college, I fear that I never became "comfortable" in that area...ignorance is a terrible thing and causes fear and distrust as shown by this example. Also, and this is a personal thing on my part, I am uncomfortable with the use of figures to try to show the human condition. Yes, figures are useful, but for me, they will never replace a good narrative. And yes, when you do receive numbers, you need to be able to trust the one giving them to you. Anyway, well said and we are in full agreement. Thanks for reading my review.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 7:32:56 PM PDT
Atusaggie: Thanks for stopping by and I apologize for not commenting back..I sort of lost track of this review. Wonderful comments you have made here. There were so many off shots from the dust bowl years. In many ways this era was sort of a turning point in our countries history, i.e. the dust bowl and the Great Depression. As you say, we are still feeling the effects of those times to this very day. We lived in Amarillo for a couple of years in the early 1960s...wonderfully interesting place! And I agree...READING IS INDEED GREAT! It certainly is a big part of my life.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2012 10:27:44 AM PST
Giordano Bruno says:
Damn, Don, I'm always trodding in your footsteps! Ever since you led the route out of that miasma in Katanga ... and thanks again for that.
This is a monster of a good book.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2012 5:19:56 PM PST
Gio: I am so glad you read this one and I do appreciate your take...again, after I read your review I find myself in full agreement with you and applauded your approach...knowing you are going to take some flack over it particularly in light of the wretched political crises we are now going through.
As you know, I have my little obscure projects I stumble around with, and I know that LBJ was not your favorite human being on earth, but I was, just two weeks ago, rereading Robert Dallek and Robert A. Caro's fine biographies - the sections that dealt with LBJ's work with the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) which was another part of FDR's New Deal. Every time I turn my lights on I am grateful. This summer my wife and I are doing a bit of a project...i.e. photographing many of the old houses and building here in Missouri and Arkansas made of stone...many of the buildings we will be photographing were built by the CCC Boys. They are still standing and still in use...and we won't even talk about the roads here which were started and improved and finished off by Ike.
And I think I will give the book here another read this summer...it takes me a couple of readings of any book for it to all soak in you know.
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