The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

THE WORST HARD TIME: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl By Timothy Egan

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy EganPublisher:  Mariner Books
Release Date:  September 2006
Pages:  340
Genre:  American History

Reviewed By WC

About the Book:  The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since. Timothy Egan’s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, “the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respect” (New York Times).

In an era that promises ever-greater natural disasters, The Worst Hard Time is “arguably the best nonfiction book yet” (Austin Statesman Journal) on the greatest environmental disaster ever to be visited upon our land and a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature.

Timothy EganWC's Review:  This book by Timothy Egan deserves five stars because of the readability of a time in American history that no one either remembers or cares about. Indeed it is an untold story of the worst climate disaster in the history of the world.

Today, more Al Gores than one can count would emerge from the prairie woodworks to figure out a pseudo scientific plan to fill their coffers. Perhaps, rightly so, but it remains doubtful that anyone could remedy the inherent tragedy of strip plowing the once, lush prairie grasses.

The thirties was a time of economic depression fostered by the edicts and meddlings of the president who took us over the top with government sponsored programs guaranteed to ameliorate each and every discomfort. 

The dust storms, or black blizzards, in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, particularly the panhandle regions, were sometimes 100 miles wide and two miles in height, beyond nasty, beyond terroristic, and beyond livable. Why folks insisted to their deaths upon living in a region where no sensible person would claim as home remains incomprehensible. Egan struggles with this human phenomenon.

Roosevelt and his cohort, Harry Hopkins, and supple secretaries had greater things on their mind. Nearly one fourth of the population was unemployed, further fueled by FDR's plan to government hire them to plant trees along the stricken states in an effort to hinder the damage of the sometimes daily dusters.

Roosevelt remains exceedingly popular to this day by those who remember his charismatic ability to enhance the trust of a crowd in person or on one of his radio fireside chats. Indeed when FDR visited Amarillo to view the situation firsthand, he got soaked in a opportunistic deluge of rain.

This vivid tale of the trials and tribulations of the folks who refused to leave the Dust Bowl is unforgettable. Poor Bam White and his son, Melt.  


Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who resides in Seattle, Washington. He currently contributes opinion columns to The New York Times as the paper's Pacific Northwest correspondent.
About the Author:  

In addition to his work with The New York Times, he has written six books, including The Good Rain, Breaking Blue, and Lasso the Wind.

Most recently he wrote "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America" which details the Great Fire of 1910 that burned about three million acres and helped shape the United States Forest Service. The book also details some of the political issues of the time focusing on Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot.

The Worst Hard Time, a non-fiction account of those who lived through The Great Depression's Dust Bowl, for which he won the 2006 Washington State Book Award in History/Biography and a 2006 National Book Award.[1]

In 2001, he won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his contribution to the series How Race is Lived in America