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The Worst Hard Time Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 10-17-17
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 10-17-17
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    "Piece of lost history"

    A great background depiction of a difficult time in America. The author did a great job in presenting the circumstances of the drought and how it happen and the direct affect on the people. Experts indicate their is a drought cycle in the western part of the US. This situation may very well happen again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    bvan 10-10-17
    bvan 10-10-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Good book. "

    This was a good book. A great read about the human side of the dust bowl. It did get redundant at times, but I would recommend for people to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 09-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Family Diary"

    My mothers family were Volga . These stories were hard to hear but a reminder of their work ethic , perseverance and mostly Gods faithfulness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    steve 07-22-17
    steve 07-22-17
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    "Story of the dustbowl and depression"
    If you could sum up The Worst Hard Time in three words, what would they be?

    Dry, hot and dusty. The dustbowl era played heavy in my childhood in the 1950s. The author interviewed my cousin, Ike Osteen, who depicted squarely many of the people out there. My parents were married in Raton, NM, April 14, 1935, the time of one of the biggest dusters ever.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jack Smith 06-16-17
    Jack Smith 06-16-17
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    "Really is the Worst Hard Time"

    You must take into account this is a story about dust storms and depression.. and that's what you're gonna get... all 308 pages of it. Dust, death, depression. It does great bringing to light an era long gone and mostly forgotten, which is a shame. I only recommend reading this because all who call themselves American should know about this section of history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    RLL 05-05-17
    RLL 05-05-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting story but somewhat tedious."

    It was a struggle to get through , very redundant at times. Athough there were some interesting moments as well and I am glad I stuck with it..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 05-01-17
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 05-01-17 Member Since 2017
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    Story
    "What you would expect"

    Before listening, I recommend you google "dust bowl" images to see a bunch of photos of the "dusters" or "dark blizzards" of the Dirty Thirties referred to in the book. The paper and ebook have photos and maps that are not included as a PDF. These images substantially enhanced the story. I stopped listening and viewed the images halfway through, and it made the rest of the book more intense and interesting. You might also want to look at the youtube video "The Plow that Broke the Plains", a government produced video of the time. Not a great movie, but it is referred to several times in the book and worth watching to set the scene.

    Even with the pictures and movie this book never rises to greatness. It is a fine little history, with lots of family stories and diary entries, plus a handful of interesting historical facts, yet the story was somewhat monolithic, largely the same story told from multiple individuals, but with little variation of insight or perspective. This was worth the listen but other than a few historical statistics, I did not learn much I didn't know and I was not particularly moved by the writing.

    The narration was clear, but a bit dry, and did not add a lot to the writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Mary 03-31-17
    Mary 03-31-17
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    "Great documentary, despite reader"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Worst Hard Time to be better than the print version?

    No. It is always hard to listen to a reader who doesn't know how to pronounce main names such as Boise. (It's Boy-zee, not boys-uh.) There are other mispronunciations, but that is the one repeated most often. Also, it would be nice to have a download for the photos.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's true. Great research.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    see above


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The entire book. I am an Oklahoman, and my parents lived through this.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy 01-28-17
    Kathy 01-28-17
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    "We sure learned a lot!"

    My husband and I listened to this book on one of our long drives to see family. Patrick Lawler is a good nonfiction reader, but when he does women's or children's voices he sounds a bit shrill and overdone. Other than that he was good. The story is incredible. Egan uses the stories of a number of people or families who survived or died during the protracted dust bowl. If you think the dust bowl was just Oklahoma, think again. Many states were affected and the toll on people's lives and finances was horrendous. We both felt Egan made us part of the story. He tells not just the fate of these and others, but the likely reason the disaster happened. If you are interested in history as we are, this is really worth a listen. I will never think of this time in our country's history the same way again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Debbie Toney, Alabama 08-26-16
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 08-26-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Dust, Dirt, Desecration, Deceit, and Death"

    Government deception and The Homestead Act of 1862, which encouraged settlers to move into the Great Plains, began an irreversible ravishing of the land . . . overgrazing of cattle, destroying the grasslands, then forced over-cultivating and planting during the Great Depression to feed the nation, robbed the top soil in an area of the country already prone to drought . . . a refusal to face the problem, worsened the tragedies suffered by the settlers . . .voices of reason were shushed . . . the depiction of the dust storms in The Worst Hard Time and the families who lived in the Texas panhandle moved me in ways that I couldn't imagine . . . I've read/heard many depression-era stories, but never anything like this . . . brave, hard working settlers who moved out west to realize their dreams . . . to burn up, in the scalding heat and black dirt and dust . . . to die from their lungs filling up with the soil of their own land . . . government officials trying to put a "pretty face" on it . . . which, of course, they still do today . . . infuriates me . . . God help us . . .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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