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Showing 1-10 of 1,081 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,600 reviews
on March 9, 2016
I was born in 1935 and lived in southern Kansas until 1955. I remember some of the dust storms as if it was yesterday. I recently read my mother's 1935 diary and she frequently mentioned the terrible dust storms. I was very young during the Great Depression, but I still remember Mills, which were ten to equal one penny. I was listening to the radio when Franklin D. Rosevelt announced the attack on Pearl Harbor and December 7th, 1941 as a day that will live in infamy. My grandparents lived on a farm in northern Oklahoma. To visit there was a trip into the past. They had no electricity, no running water, an out house, kerosene lanterns, kerosene stoves, and a real ice box. They are all gone now and I can no longer ask what the conditions were in their early years. This book helped me see into the past of my own relatives.
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on March 13, 2017
Excellent history book. Before I read this book, I had very little knowledge of what so many Americans went thru during the "Dirty Thirties." The author did a great job not just retelling the story of that period, but making it personal; depicting how hard many of the families had it back then. Their triumphs due to hard work and their painful losses. People lost so much and suffered so long. How the Comanche and other Native American tribes were moved out of the Great Plains. I learned so much about this environmental disaster. Hope it never happens again.
I love all of Timothy Egan's books.
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on December 19, 2016
This book is so amazingly timely, not just for the aspect of the man-made contributions to natural disaster happening at a time of economic hardship, but also for a lot of the political aspects of it, and of course for the human aspects. People don't change so much.

I did watch the Dust Bowl miniseries first, and they do cover some of the same ground, though with different focuses, but I feel like you get more details from this book.

To be fair, it is rough. There are a few main people that you follow and they are constantly defeated by the land, dying broke, or physically broken, and any chances for renewal and success have to wait for the next generation. Even as things get better, there are indications that we are on the same path, not just in other places, but even right there with the demands on the Oglalla.

That's why it is so timely, and so important. Humans don't change much, and they will keep making the same mistakes over and over again unless information, and education, can change that.
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on May 7, 2014
Five states during the 1930's, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma were clobbered by an environmental disaster of epic proportions. Land that had been navigated for 1000's of years by the American Indian and the buffalo, and given away by the US Government to settle "The Great American Desert", as it was called in the early part of the 20th Century, was plowed unmercifully until there was no barrier to keep the soil from just blowing away.

And blow away it did. In one day, an inch of top soil could be (and was) blown away that would take a 1000 years to replace.

Egan tells the stories of people who stayed on during those years rather than packing it all up to move to California. Actually, 2/3 of the people did stay on. And their plight was often tragic. 

"Dust Pneumonia" was a disease that killed family members, and cattle often died with their stomachs full of dust.

These dust storms not only devastated the primary areas of drought, wind and starvation, but in some instances the storms veiled Eastern cities, such as New York, Washington DC and even ships out on the Atlantic.

Under the Roosevelt Administration, Hugh Bennet became the visionary that saw the necessity of Farmer's Cooperatives, replanting of the land with grasses brought over from Africa, and other soil conservation plans.

In the 1950's I can remember seeing dust storms rolling over the prairie toward our town. The clouds were black roiling along the horizon, and our Mom's hurried us inside. By the time the storm really hit, it was as dark as night out side, and when the storm was over, a fine silt covered every surface. The window seals, covered with masking tape, and then covered with wet cloths, did not keep the silt out. So our Moms, all who were very clean, set to work setting our homes to rights once again.

The storms I remember were mild compared to what the people endured for ten long years of drought, blighted land, sickness and disaster, but I can still remember the taste of dust in my mouth. The people who survived The Worst Hard Time can remember a belly full of dust and more. These people were tough. And their story is worth reading.
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on October 16, 2015
As someone who's lived on the East Coast my whole life, a continuous forest with ideal farmland, I took for granted the hardship that settlers faced as they moved out West and decided to settle. However, it was also baffling how incompetent the government was in not only supporting the destruction of natural habitats without repercussions, but also the sheer idiocy they fell back in in dealing with the situation.

Timothy Egan's dive into the Great Dust Bowl is superb. His precise, narrative writing does much to draw the reader in and make its real-life characters easier to relate to. He gives personalities to these people who refused to bow down to nature and for that they were punished, in a way. But punished not only by the land, but also by their own government. Egan details the slow spiral of the Great Plains from lush prairie land to desiccated, desolate hardpan without a hint of green. He compliments the personal narratives of these farmers with in-depth historical analysis of the towns and the governments working behind the scenes, while also providing a sort of biological analysis of the ecosystem and how it rapidly fell apart.
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on July 4, 2017
What a load of garbage. I got sick of Egan's praise of these idiot farmer's "independence" while at the same time telling the reader repetitive stories of their stupidity. These people were as dumb as the dirt blowing away underneath them. Even when the government gave them the money to leave a land wasting away every day they "held on".. LOL. It sounded to me like the people who live in Hurricane Alley down in Florida and get wiped out every year but vow to "rebuild". And never mind the fact that they were losing their marbles inch by inch. This was evidenced by the bizarre rabbit-round-ups they held where they gleefully clubbed thousands of the "critters" as Egan would say, an activity that apparently lifted their spirits. That was another thing. Egan's folksy writing was quaint at first then just irritating. After the 100th "momma" and "daddy" I knew this book was destined for the trash. How it ever got a National Book Award I'll never know except that American writing as hit a new low. H.L. Mencken was right.
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on October 23, 2012
TWHT should have won every book award available the year it came out - and the years since. Simply put, this is a fine book.

People search for a non fiction book that reads like fiction. Why? Because non fiction has a bad connotation to some people and in some cases, rightly so. Some non fiction reads like a bad textbook : taking a subject that should be interesting and turning into boring and dry words on a page.

The Worst Hard Time is fascinating from first page to last. If you are interested in the Depression, farming during those times, the Great Plains, migration in the U.S. Mid 20th century ; the WPA and its ilk, the sociology of cities and towns and what happens when they are changed, traumatically. Interested in conservation methods, FDR, the effects of isolation on human beings, what happens to animals in an ecosystem when that ecosystem is destroyed and the pain of watching your children wither and die - this is your book. It also is about hope, strength, small victories and large ones too. It is also a book that will help you to understand the real seniors in your family- those in their 90's on average. What they lived through and who they became by doing so - just spellbinding stuff.

The Worst Hard Time one of my favorite books for ever and is a present I frequently give to people, who may not at first understand why I would give such a book , but after about 4 minutes of reading; the smart ones do, and are grateful.

It's a masterpiece and stays with you, unlike a dinner of chopped grass and maybe a clubbed rabbit part.
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on April 27, 2016
I have read most of the books written by Timothy Egan and this one is my favorite. In addition to being extremely descriptive, Egan puts the events into proper historical perspective. It is a lesson in the use and misuse of our resources. Having traveled extensively in this area, I appreciated the attention to detail. I could almost taste the dust when reading the book. It is now very affordable on Kindle and you don't want to miss it. I recently read it for the second time for a book review group and picked up on some things that I had missed the first time. I can see why this book won a Pulitzer Prize.
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on May 17, 2017
This book is truly a well written history on the cause and the effects on real people of the worst ecological disaster in US history. The author provides a graphic description of what people had to live through during this period. Gave my a real appreciation for what my parents had to live through as they both grew up close to "ground zero" for the Dust Bowl.
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on June 5, 2017
Such a well-written book. The author sets out to tell the human stories of surviving the Dust Bowl, while also examining its causes and the efforts to mitigate it. He writes with great sympathy, assigning blame to human agents where it is due but also never letting us forget that these were human beings doing the best they could for themselves and their families according to what they knew. He conveys quite chillingly the relentlessness of the dust storms, and your heart will break with and for the people who endured them. The tone of his writing is simply pitch-perfect, conveying the "voice" of the people so we'll you can almost hear them talking. I would have loved to hear more about what life is like now for people living in areas that had been afflicted - the ending of this book felt rather abrupt - but otherwise this story is perfect.
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