The story line is so revealing about human nature and what motivates us in our daily actions. His writing subtly reminds us of our human weaknesses and our strengths, and yet, he gives us a reason to have hope. And the narration absolutely makes it come alive. Love listening to Bower---one of the best I've heard.
You must read the entire trilogy starting with the Potato Factory---that makes the characters much more alive and the motivations better understood. Overall I've read all of the Michener books and would put Courtney close to his level of accomplishment.
Excellent as all the others have been. He adds so much in the manner which he presents the characters.
When Hawk would take the longer view and do the right things for the future benefit of his family and friends knowing that he would be criticized personally. That's such an uncommon characteristic in society---doing the right thing at personal cost.
I haven't read any of this---perhaps it might not be as good in the read as the listen. I will say that Bower has to add to the story in a significant manner.
Yes, if they are interested in human nature and how we collectively react to certain life tragedies based on personality and previous life experiences...it's an informative read. I think particularly important for the "under 40" generations today living in middle America to help understand that tragedy can reach down and affect many lives over large regions of the country. Plus it illustrates what happens to people and how they adapt when there is no safety net of government intervention in such tragedies. I kept thinking perhaps such an event as shared in the story would cause us as society to reconsider when and how we provide specific public support. When support is used up in the smaller particles of daily life experience, is less available for the larger tragedies that inevitably will occur? This chronological timeframe was the very beginning of significant involvement of government in the lives of people, which arguably has today led to the almost immediate public response of turning to government to solve any societal problem of any origination---even those involving poor personal choices. Decisions much like those in the story involved in plowing the grasslands of the great plains into farmland for economic benefit. There was a way to perhaps get more from the resource; but not in the manner in which the "progress" was implemented. The "middle of the spectrum" approaches that might have yielded much better outcomes were overcome by short-term economic incentive of a few leading citizens. It's also illustrative of how political personalitites affect outcomes for national economic policies and intiate changes in America's natural landscape. Points out clearly why initially conservation and subsequently, environmental groups, formed to stem the tide of over enthusastic economic use of natural resources. This is a book for educating oneself about one part of our great natural resource of America that was the Great Plains and the following of a few families through a decade's disaster of drought as they sought to hang on to what life they had built for themselves on the land. Myself as a farmer, an agricultural historian and policy person, I identified with the feelings of the people as they toughened against the constant threats that Mother Nature threw at them. I also chuckled at the political and various policy people identified as they tried to find the answers for the affected without really understanding the full range of facts. Having served in government policy positions, it mirrored previous observations that precious little has changed in improving our national governance since the country's Constitution was ratified.
Summary: It's a good read for history and information about a time in our society when things were really upside down. The storyline about the families is interesting, but the character development was constrained by reality of the people having actually lived the part. Yet somehow the authenticity was real as events were recorded well enough for the author to share the story of their lives with us today. I loved the personal diary entries that told the story and personality of certain characters. So, it's not a story that entertains as much as one that educates,...and that I believe, it did quite well. I recommend it as reading for any leadership development activity for today's younger generation as a comparison against present day government involvement in our lives.
Any book that shares the storyline about the Great Depression as this story presented a "from the land" view of the economic upheaval of that time. Most Depression era stories are centered on cities and the torn lives from that economic and social perspective. The suffering was arguably deeper for those on the land; in fact, many did finally go to the city to find work.
If I needed the story,. i.e., the information or history offered by the book, then yes. But not my favorite reader,...a bit monotone. When we first started listening to books "on tape", this presentation was the standard and would be rated good. Now however, the embellishments of voice can make a story come to life much more than in the past---particularly then there is narrative to enhance the character. The best readers fall into the character so well that one no longer needs instruction of who is speaking. That brings so much more "life" to the story. I felt at times as I was "laboring through", but it was worth the effort to get the perspective of the era of the story.
Not an emotional read---mostly factual though there is much about human suffering throughout. In that time there was simply a determined effort put forth by most to endure, as not much else was really understood. Having grown up on and living on the farm in the decades following the story, I experienced the remnants of that kind of human view of the world---we did for ourselves as government wasn't the answer---otherwise it would own you and only partially satisfy needs---sometimes providing what wasn't really needed. We depended on ourselves and a few local institutions---mostly the church family---for support. I did however, identify with the constant longing, and incessant hope that the sky's would open up and provide relief to the parched earth. When that rain finally came, one can feel the relief in the human spirit and a return of satisfaction that nature can indeed nuture,... and that life on the land is once again good.
Not for the thrill seeker to read,...one would be disappointed and wouldn't likely finish the story. But if you are thinking about government involvment in lives and how leadership really works, and how people respond to incentives and crises, it's a good book to consider listening to. I have recommended it in leadership development classes as a case study of the beginning of the deeper involvment of government into our personal lives. A good contrast point to consider.
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