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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl | [Timothy Egan]

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

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.
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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2006

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 history.

Bonus: In partnership with Audible and Playtone, the television and film producer behind the award-winning series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, this audiobook includes an original introduction, written and read by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns. For more from Audible and Playtone, click here.


©2005 Timothy Egan (P)2006 Tantor Media

What the Critics Say

"With characters who seem to have sprung from a novel by Sinclair Lewis or Steinbeck, and Egan's powerful writing, this account will long remain in readers' minds." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Kindle Customer United States 01-19-12
    Kindle Customer United States 01-19-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't get through it."

    This audiobook is slow and I couldn't get into it. Never finished it. I tried to, but I just couldn't do it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Millie Helotes, TX, United States 12-20-11
    Millie Helotes, TX, United States 12-20-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Good but too long!"

    I enjoyed the first half of this book. The second half got repetitive, especially the part when the narrator reads entries from a journal. Every day the same thing, dust storms, dead crops, hopelessness, and despair. A couple of entries would have been ok to make a point, however, too many entries with the same descriptions were definitely unnecessary. By this time, I was hoping the book would end but it still dragged on. Sometimes authors get so involved with their subject, they don't know when to stop and bring things to a close. Sadly, for this book, less would have been better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Buzzards Bay, MA, United States 12-09-11
    Barbara Buzzards Bay, MA, United States 12-09-11
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    "Great Story, Great Reader!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Worst Hard Time to be better than the print version?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    I have read and listened to this book. This a powerful account of the effect Nature can have on people. This was a period in history that few ecologists talk about. But, it did occur, little precipitation and unusually high temperatures. It had little to do with pollution and a lot to do with the way Nature works. It is a book that should be mandatory in school reading lists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Fe, NM, United States 11-02-11
    Jean Santa Fe, NM, United States 11-02-11 Member Since 2011
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    "American History made alive!"

    This story of the great dust bowl years and the devastation to the land and people's lives is an important part of American history. It is beautifully detailed and brought to life in a remarkable way that makes a gripping tale. It should also be seen as a cautionary note for our times as we lay waste to parts of the earth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty Scottsdale, AZ, United States 10-25-11
    Betty Scottsdale, AZ, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Feel the grit of the "Dust Bowl!""

    This was a great listen! Very well narrated. The history and statistics of this region of the US were personalized by following the stories of various families or individuals throughout this era. I could feel the hunger pangs and the grit of the dust storms while I was listening to this compelling tale. When these folks thought it couldn't get any worse, it did, time after time. So interesting to hear why these folks stayed and how they coped.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell 08-18-11
    Russell 08-18-11

    Like mysteries, not much in to SciFi, hate vampire books. Like most all years of history.

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    "Those were hard times...."

    I approached this book with some previous knowledge of the Dust Bowl. My mother and many of my relatives grew up in the middle of the dust bowl. I was familiar with some of the families mentioned in the book. I think it is excellent and teaches us a part of history that many have forgotton and many more never learned. Very good look at how hard things really were in the '30s.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arthur G. Lambert New York, NY USA 08-06-11
    Arthur G. Lambert New York, NY USA 08-06-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Hard Times Drag on For Reader"

    The parts about how and why the high plains was settled is interesting and how turning the land to growing crops, particularly wheat, was informative. However, most of the book is a chronicle of the various dust storms and the effects on the settlers. It's an appalling story but from one dust storm to another, from one choking lung to another, from one suffocated animal to another, it's all the same and becomes tiresome fast. I also found the reading not to my liking but that's very subjective. I can't say exactly what it is in his presentation or voice that grated on me but it did. It's very seldom I can't finish but this is one I couldn't make it to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Consumer Queen Chicago, IL 07-18-11
    Consumer Queen Chicago, IL 07-18-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Remarkably Depressing"

    Unavoidable perhaps, but most of the book is the stuff of nightmares. Perhaps I am too sensitive, but the tragedy is tremendous, and I can't remember much but the horrid images, especially of all that did NOT survive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    David Powell 03-03-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Stunning and Harsh"

    The title says it all. If you think we have had it bad in the recent financial crisis, you will have a different perspective after reading The Worst Hard Time. Real immigrants, new Americans, trying desparately to make a living on open land with soil that had never been plowed. Other Americans feeding fantasies and getting rich off of the new immigrants. The result is the Dust Bowl and absolute misery. A very well told story. A very painful story. Egan does a masterful job. Who needs the trumas created in fiction when reality is much more compelling?

    I've always heard of the Dust Bowl but always downplayed its impact. How bad could it have been? The Worst Hard Time forces you to feel the trauma, the misery and yes, even the blizzards of soil totally encompassing and isolating you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig A. Godeke Montreal, QC Canada 07-25-10
    Craig A. Godeke Montreal, QC Canada 07-25-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Moving history"

    This is a very engaging, almost novel-like history of the dust belt during the Great Depression. The characters and places come to life, and the tragedy and stress of the times are really brought out.

    The reading is very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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