This book was recommended to me by a colleague whom said it was excellent and whose daughter also gave positive marks. After completing, I have mixed reviews. I was looking forward to the story but by the end of the book I feel like the countless anecdotes of suffering in the Oklahoma dust could have been replaced with a more diverse dialog realted to different economic classes among the story tellers.
The story started out well and I was glued for the first third to first half of the book by learning about the predicament of the country in 1929 and into the 30’s. After the first 2-3 stories of the dust storms and how they affected everyone, I got bored. I mean, how many different ways can you slice those tales before they start to sound the same? I kept asking myself “When will this end?” so I could get to the (epilogue) and learn the final outcome and what affect the Dust Bowl had on farming in today’s economy.
Ken Burns does an excellent job (as usual) in keeping the listener engaged with a style of story-telling that is often unmatched. That combined with a slice in American history that needed to be told was what I needed to make the selection. The story as a whole was good, and I did enjoy it, I just became tired of hearing the (what seemed like) repeated stories of suffering amongst a similar class of people. The fall of the Stock market had my ear and so did the tales of speculators trying to find their pot of gold by farming in the central plains, but the repetition of inhaling dust dragged a bit.
Don’t take it from me. Maybe you’ll see it differently.
Yes. Narrator Patrick Lawlor has great voice inflection. Tells a very entertaining story about the dust bowl.
I think Alfafa Bill, the Governor of Oklahoma
You can imagine the people actually talking in their accents.
Made me appreciate the grit and persistence of the dust bowl people. made me appreciate my easy life.
I'm guessing not although the narrator was quite good.
Everything I learned about the great dust bowl and the hard times people experienced and lived through.
I had no favorite character in this read.
Not one, but many--the years people spent on the unforgiving land, still hoping for the best.
A great read for everyone who doesn't appreciate the hardships people can endure.
This is an excellent history of the dust bowl. I learned so much that American history books treat as an insignificant footnote to history. The entire episode threatened America's ability to feed itself. Thousands died, many more were run off of their land. I had never heard of "Dust Pneumonia" before reading this. After reading it I asked my parents and got another lesson about our family history, the history of the west and American history.
This is a significant event in our history and should be treated that way. Since our collective American propensity for revisionist history is so strong we should all take more time to read more about our collective history. This is one of the books that should be on your list to read.
Impact, people and policies are all explored, fleshed out over time. It seems slightly shorter period than the actural history. Sure to change the way you look at the land.
It is hard to imagine a situation in which you can not excape getting dust in the lungs of children.
This is a compelling story that is emotionally rich, but experientially exhausting and surely I would have put this down long before I finished had the voice not continued to another dimension of the story.
You'll be surprized to find you don't actually have to shake dust off by the end..
The best ever.
None. I've not read another book of non-fiction that I've liked this much.
You could imagine that you were there.
This reader did not know how to pronounce a lot of common vocabulary. The only vocal "expression" he used was to change his voice, when reading a quote, to a fake southern/western accent that sounded like Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. Did you know that everyone (men and women) in the Dust Bowl talked like Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies? His voice was pinched and labored, and with all the mispronounced words, sounded uncomfortable.His vocal delivery was so grating that it was hard to concentrate on the actual content of the text.
The actual content of the book is a valuable resource and witness to the need for better stewardship of the land.
The author combined facts with stories of individuals who endured these difficult times.
The narrator needs to learn vocabulary and pronunciation, for starts. Take some lessons in vocal production and breath support. Stop quoting everyone with a fake southern accent.
Noteworthy book, made almost unbearable by a disappointing reading performance.
I'm glad I have both a print and audio edition. This allows me to search for particular segments more efficiently than if I just had the audio edition.
The most shocking and memorable moments of THE WORST HARD TIMES were the descriptions of the enormous, roiling curtains of earth that swamped the area. I had heard about the wet sheets being strung up over windowns and doors to keep the dust out from my husband who grew up in the sand hills of eastern Colorado, but I never imagined the suffocating density of those storms. Hearing about them made me feel as if I were choking myself.
I don't know if I would describe the scene that most impressed me as "my favorite," but the scene that had the most impact for me was the one in which the farmer had to kill a newly born calf so that his childrent could have the mother's milk for sustinance.
It made made feel extremely anxious about our thoughtless draining of the acquifer that underlies the mid-west.
A thought provoking story. I highly recommend it.
This book ranks in my top 5 of the audio history books I have.
The story can move a bit slowly at times, but patience will reward the listener with a great deal of understanding. This book covers period that all to often gets jumbled in with the Great Depression without being told in it's own right.
I am so glad that I listened to this book before Ken Burn's documentary on the Dust Bowls comes out in November, 2012
I knew about the great Dust Bowl, of course . . . but it turns out I knew very little. I'm so glad I listened to this book, and it's likely that I will read it again . . . and again. It's not that it's so riveting in every aspect, nor that the characters breathe and live as in a novel, but the story relates in as interesting a way as I believe nonfiction can. Egan alternates between stories of one character or set of characters and another so that it feels that the reader is moving through time as a surveyor of a distinct world filled with hopeful, naive, all-American characters who inhabit a pivotal time and place in America's history.
The sequence of events begins with an excellent background explaining the settlement and farming of the heretofore untouched (by plows) grasslands. While lack of understanding within the American Government and its Land Settlement beneficiaries dulls their guilt to some degree, the consequential rape of the land with no effort for understanding leads the reader to reflect on a myriad of horrified realizations and judgements that eventually brings on, at least, a determination to help prevent this sort of appalling foolhardiness from being repeated.
The style of the narrative itself, however, is not one of disdain or anger, and I'm grateful to the author for his self-control: it's after finishing the book and reflecting on it that the tragedy of the whole event became really apparent to me. While reading, I felt for the inhabitants and wished that their endeavors to settle, farm and make good lives for their families would all turn out. ( I wish too that the former inhabiters of the area could have had all things they hoped for turn out well, but that's another story.)
Reading this book has provided me with an education that feels almost palpably empowering. I can't stop talking about it--in purposely tiny snippets--to family and friends. I've resisted any lecturing--partly because I so admire the author for also resisting that tiresome urge. But I do feel that this is among the top 10 most important books I have ever read.