- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1st edition (December 14, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 061834697X
- ISBN-13: 978-0618346974
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,624 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Egan tells an extraordinary tale in this visceral account of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl. But the plague was man-made, as Egan shows: the plains weren't suited to farming, and plowing up the grass to plant wheat, along with a confluence of economic disaster—the Depression—and natural disaster—eight years of drought—resulted in an ecological and human catastrophe that Egan details with stunning specificity. He grounds his tale in portraits of the people who settled the plains: hardy Americans and immigrants desperate for a piece of land to call their own and lured by the lies of promoters who said the ground was arable. Egan's interviews with survivors produce tales of courage and suffering: Hazel Lucas, for instance, dared to give birth in the midst of the blight only to see her baby die of "dust pneumonia" when her lungs clogged with the airborne dirt. With characters who seem to have sprung from a novel by Sinclair Lewis or Steinbeck, and Egan's powerful writing, this account will long remain in readers' minds. (Dec. 14)
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From The New Yorker
On April 14, 1935, the biggest dust storm on record descended over five states, from the Dakotas to Amarillo, Texas. People standing a few feet apart could not see each other; if they touched, they risked being knocked over by the static electricity that the dust created in the air. The Dust Bowl was the product of reckless, market-driven farming that had so abused the land that, when dry weather came, the wind lifted up millions of acres of topsoil and whipped it around in "black blizzards," which blew as far east as New York. This ecological disaster rapidly disfigured whole communities. Egan's portraits of the families who stayed behind are sobering and far less familiar than those of the "exodusters" who staggered out of the High Plains. He tells of towns depopulated to this day, a mother who watched her baby die of "dust pneumonia," and farmers who gathered tumbleweed as food for their cattle and, eventually, for their children.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker
Top customer reviews
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.
Real people living in hell managed to survive one of America's worst nightmares and still loved the land that betrayed them. These were survivors...brave, bold and maybe just a little bit crazy, few abandoning the plains where hearts never lost sight of hope.
Truly a must read for all ages.
heritage that can't be undone
Most recent customer reviews
This was hard to read because it is not about one of my special historical interests, and also because it is essentially a...Read more