Ever wondered about the Dust Bowl and why people from Oklahoma were given derogatory names like "Oakies"? Why did people see them as people who would rather live in the dust collecting welfare? Why did we call them uneducated and think of them as dirty and invading states with hard working people looking for a handout. Worse, why were they coming here trying to take jobs already scarce? By the end of the book you think you may have taken another road were it you. If you are hopeful and optimistic, you may have stayed too long in Oklahoma or the Texas Panhandle like they did. You come away knowing you could have been one of them looking for a future. You also come away wondering how people could endure such conditions and be so optimistic about the future.You may also decide these had to be some of the toughest people on earth.
This is not what I'd call a 'page' turner - it took me quite some time to finish it, as I didn't feel compelled to listen to it all the time, but nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I like to listen to non-fiction books to 'get smarter' and I sure did with this book. It was a fascinating story of a time period that I thought I knew a lot about, but found I did not. There were many characters, which was confusing for awhile, but you figure them out the further you get into the book. The facts/trivia of the dustbowl were tragic and intriguing. I would highly recommend this book to history teachers or literature teachers, especially if you teach Steinbeck. The reader had a pleasant voice - he read the story without insinuating himself into it - no goofy accents, huge changes of tone - it was a nice change from some 'over the top' readers.
Very personal stories that bring this era to life. It makes me want to drive thru the area to meet the people. The narrator made the people live again and brought warmth to a very hard story.
"The Worst Hard Time" is the first book of its type that I have listened to. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Although a very depressing subject, I couldn't wait to get back to listen to more. It made me really appreciate the struggles of Americans of all types in the early 1900's. It was also an eye opener to hear about the foolishness of the country and the shady businessmen...shows that some things remain the same. I couldn't help but draw parallels to today's environment.
What a terrific accounting of the dust bowl era. The author must have had letters and diaries because everything "speaks" authentically. And the way he has put it together makes what could be boring history easy to take. Good reader, also.
This title supplements Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." Being a work of non-fiction, it explains what happened to those who did not flee from the dust. I enjoyed it so much, I bought the hard copy and gave it as a gift.
There's always time for reading
I think Timothy Egan is a great writer and have enjoyed a number of his other books -- particularly Short Nights. Like his other books, I found this one covered a fascinating, little known era of American history, the dust bowl drama of the 1930s, but found it covered the same ground way too long (think 100 pages of listening about dust storms) without the same drama or depth of his more recent works. It's an interesting book, but I was glad to be finished with it.
Thank God for a mother who read to me all the time. If it were not for her I would not leave the house without an iPod.
This is our history and yet it seems like a science fiction novel. The first hand stories are heart breaking. If you have seen the photos of Dorothea Lange or the movie The Grapes of Wrath you will have a slight idea of the amount of suffering that occured.