- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 47 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: April 13, 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FEBQJU
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
I love all of Timothy Egan's books.
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.
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.
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.