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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (2006)

af Timothy Egan

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4,3091952,674 (4.15)549
History. Nonfiction. 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 huts 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 death 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. Egan captures the very voice of the time-its grit, pathos, and abiding heroism-as only great history can. 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 histo… (mere)
  1. 60
    The Children's Blizzard af David Laskin (lyzadanger)
    lyzadanger: Similar themes: pioneers and farmers facing the wrath of nature in middle America; relatively compelling pop history.
  2. 20
    Under This Unbroken Sky: A Novel af Shandi Mitchell (vancouverdeb)
    vancouverdeb: A story of immigrant prairie homesteaders in Canada during the 1930's. Tough times.
  3. 10
    Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s af Donald Worster (eromsted)
  4. 10
    Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier af Jeffrey A. Lockwood (sjmccreary)
    sjmccreary: another overwhelming hardship for farm families in the plains - also very readable
  5. 00
    Harpsong af Rilla Askew (GCPLreader)
  6. 00
    Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations af David R. Montgomery (lbeaumont)
  7. 01
    Bad Land: An American Romance af Jonathan Raban (etxgardener, RidgewayGirl)
    etxgardener: If you liked The Worst Hard Time, your love Bad Land which describes the same ezperience in the northern plains.
    RidgewayGirl: A different part of the country, but a similar tale of immigrant farmers and enormous determination.
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Viser 1-5 af 194 (næste | vis alle)
For 6 years, in the American West, the skies rained down tons of topsoil and searing electrical storms from on high to create hell on earth. Even with massive reclamation projects, some of the areas that were destroyed on the high plains during the dust bowl years will never be more than barren deserts. Have we learned anything? If the fiercely independent settlers of the high plains were able to swallow their pride, admit their part in altering the ecology of the land, and adopt government programs to reclaim the land , perhaps today we, too, can collectively successfully address our current environmental concerns. In this possibility lies the hope behind this dreadful
story. ( )
  jemisonreads | Jan 22, 2024 |
This history of the arid western lands and how people came from the East to farm it, only to destroy the ancient grasslands and cause the largest environmental disaster in US history was fascinating. Not fun, not a happy story, but fascinating. I had to look up photos of the dust storms on the web after I listened to this audiobook. They are unbelievable. ( )
  Pferdina | Dec 31, 2023 |
Egan managed to make one of the most interesting and horrific times, mistakes, and places in American history boring. This book was a slog. ( )
  rabbit-stew | Dec 31, 2023 |
This was a very interesting and informative read---I learned a few things and definitely had a shift of perspective about this time in history. I'd been told that my great grandmother and her family went through the Dust Bowl but looking at the timeline compared to where they were doing those years, it looks like they were probably more financially affected by the lack of work than by the bulk of the dust storms themselves. Her family left Beaver County, Oklahoma (in the heart of the Dust Bowl) in the 1920s and went east to Enid (east of the worst of it by a couple hundred miles, according to this book). So they were out of there long before the dusters started hitting, but definitely would have felt the financial fall out of that mixed with the other effects of the Great Depression. From what I can tell, that family began to move west to Oregon in the early 1950s, with my great-grandmother arriving within 10 years of that.

Reading about the beginning of the depression reminded me of last summer when the government was buying truckloads of produce from farmers and distributing it free all over the country due to the effects of COVID. As much as I say I don't want to rely on the govt. for anything, it was sad and a little scary to read about what these people went through before the advent of govt. aid. I suppose I'm appreciative that the help is there for those who need it, but I also think it's heavily abused and should be more strictly regulated.

I was surprised that more mention wasn't made of the correlation between the "plagues" suffered during this time and the Exodus plagues. I imagine that was hot on most minds, being the Bible belt and all. I also learned that "No Man's Land" is a real place!

I was surprised by the naiveté of many who tried all kinds of strange things to induce rain. Scientific methods of the time included dynamiting the sky, plowing to create atmospheric disturbances, laying out dead snakes on fences, and trusting the steam from trains to make the skies weep. In addition to that, I think there was a bit of ignorance in Washington about how big of an area they were dealing with. One solution to the problem of blowing dust was to just asphalt the entire Great Plains, and Roosevelt had the brainy idea to plant a forest over the entire area to change the climate. Oy!

But speaking of naive... I was really interested and surprised to learn how big of an issue static electricity was during the storms. I didn't realize it built up with such strength as to make a couple of friends fall over shaking hands!

This was a super interesting read and really caused me to think about the things I freak out about nowadays. Nothing I've ever gone through compares to the things these brave (and maybe stubborn?) people went through. ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
If you find the Dust Bowl fascinating, Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time delves deeply into the time period using the area of “No Man’s Land” (where the Oklahoma panhandle, the Texas panhandle, Colorado, and Nebraska come together) as the center of the story. Very well-researched and full of a lot of personal stories, Egan holds nothing back as he explores the history and the people involved — be prepared for a lot of sadness. I was hoping for a bit more governmental work and outcomes, but overall still an interesting historical read. ( )
  Hccpsk | Oct 9, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 194 (næste | vis alle)
The Worst Hard Time," takes the shape of a classic disaster tale. We meet the central characters (the "nesters" who farmed around the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles); dire warnings (against plowing) are voiced but ignored; and then all hell breaks loose. Ten-thousand-foot-high dust storms whip across the landscape, choking people and animals, and eventually laying waste to one of the richest ecosystems on earth.
Racing at 50 miles an hour, the Dust Bowl storms of the 1930's blasted paint off buildings; soil crushed trees, dented cars and drifted into 50-foot dunes. Tsunamis of grasshoppers devoured anything that drought, hail and tornadoes had spared. To the settlers, "it seemed on many days as if a curtain were being drawn across a vast stage at world's end." Families couldn't huddle together for warmth or love: the static electricity would knock them down. Children died of dust pneumonia, and livestock suffocated on dirt, their insides packed with soil. Women hung wet sheets in windows, taped doors and stuffed cracks with rags. None of this really worked. Housecleaning, in this era, was performed with a shovel.

 
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.
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To my dad, raised by his widowed mother during the darkest years of the Great Depression, four to a bedroom. Among the many things he picked up from her was this skill: never let the kids see you sweat.
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On those days when the wind stops blowing across the face of the southern plains, the land falls into a silence that scares people in the way that a big house can haunt after the lights go out and no one else is there.
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The banks seldom said no. After Congress passed the Federal Farm Loan Act in 1916, every town with a well and a sheriff had itself a farmland bank - an institution - offering forty-year loans at six percent interest... ...If it was hubris, or "tempting fate" as some of the church ladies said, well, the United States government did not see it that way.
How to explain a place where black dirt fell from the sky, where children died from playing outdoors, where rabbits were clubbed to death by adrenaline-primed nesters still wearing their Sunday-school clothes, where grasshoppers descended on weakened fields and ate everything but doorknobs. . . . America was passing this land by. Its day was done.
Throughout the Great Plains, a visitor passes more nothing than something.
That was Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, day of the worst duster of them all. The storm carried twice as much dirt as was dug out of the earth to create the Panama Canal. The canal took seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was airborne that day.
Bison have poor eyesight and tend to be clannish, but they are the greatest thermo-regulators ever adapted to the plains, able to withstand temperatures of 110 degrees in summer, and 30 below zero in winter.
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History. Nonfiction. 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 huts 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 death 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. Egan captures the very voice of the time-its grit, pathos, and abiding heroism-as only great history can. 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 histo

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