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The worst hard time : the untold story of those who survived the great American dust bowl
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Fiction/Biography Profile
American Dust Bowl
Great Depression
American history
Midwest (U.S.)
West (U.S.)
United States
Time Period
1930s -- 20th century
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  Library Journal Review

What happened when dust clouds settled over the Plains during the Depression? A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times revisits the little-told story. An in-house favorite that's attracting huge attention. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
"The Worst Hard Time is an epic story of blind hope and endurance almost beyond belief; it is also, as Tim Egan has told it, a riveting tale of bumptious charlatans, conmen, and tricksters, environmental arrogance and hubris, political chicanery, and a ruinous ignorance of nature's ways. Egan has reached across the generations and brought us the people who played out the drama in this devastated land, and uses their voices to tell the story as well as it could ever be told." -- Marq de Villiers, author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource<br> <br> The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, going from sod homes to new framed houses to huddling in basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out. He follows their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black blizzards, crop failure, and the deaths of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survived--those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the grave--Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression.<br> <br> As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage. Combining the human drama of Isaac's Storm with the sweep of The American People in the Great Depression, The Worst Hard Time is a lasting and important work of American history.<br> <br> Timothy Egan is a national enterprise reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of four books and the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Seattle, Washington.<br> <br> "As one who, as a young reporter, survived and reported on the great Dust Bowl disaster, I recommend this book as a dramatic, exciting, and accurate account of that incredible and deadly phenomenon. This is can't-put-it-down history." --Walter Cronkite<br> <br> "The Worst Hard Time is wonderful: ribbed like surf, and battering us with a national epic that ranks second only to the Revolution and the Civil War. Egan knows this and convincingly claims recognition for his subject--as we as a country finally accomplished, first with Lewis and Clark, and then for 'the greatest generation,' many of whose members of course were also survivors of the hardships of the Great Depression. This is a banner, heartfelt but informative book, full of energy, research, and compassion." --Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived<br> <br> "Here's a terrific true story--who could put it down? Egan humanizes Dust Bowl history by telling the vivid stories of the families who stayed behind. One loves the people and admires Egan's vigor and sympathy." --Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek<br> <br> "The American West got lucky when Tim Egan focused his acute powers of observation on its past and present. Egan's remarkable combination of clear analysis and warm empathy anchors his portrait of the women and men who held on to their places--and held on to their souls--through the nearly unimaginable miseries of the Dust Bowl. This book provides the finest mental exercise for people wanting to deepen, broaden, and strengthen their thinking about the relationship of human beings to this earth." --Patricia N. Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West<br> <br>
Table of Contents
Introduction: Live Through Thisp. 1
IPromise: The Great Plowup, 19011930
1The Wandererp. 13
2No Man's Landp. 32
3Creating Dalhartp. 52
4High Plains Deutschp. 59
5Last of the Great Plowupp. 73
IIBetrayal, 19311933
6First Wavep. 91
7A Darkeningp. 103
8In a Dry Landp. 115
9New Leader, New Dealp. 128
10Big Blowsp. 136
IIIBlowup, 19341939
11Triagep. 145
12The Long Darknessp. 155
13The Struggle for Airp. 171
14Showdown in Dalhartp. 176
15Duster's Evep. 193
16Black Sundayp. 198
17A Call to Armsp. 222
18Goingsp. 236
19Witnessesp. 242
20The Saddest Landp. 254
21Verdictp. 265
22Cornhusker IIp. 273
23The Last Menp. 279
24Cornhusker IIIp. 293
25Rainp. 303
Epiloguep. 309
Notes and Sourcesp. 315
Acknowledgmentsp. 328
Indexp. 331
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