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The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan
We've all heard of the Okies and Arkies who headed west from the sandstorms in the Great Plains during the 1930s Depression. In The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan explores the causes of the Dust Bowl and its horrific effects on the people who stayed behind. The plains of the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado area were once vast grasslands with deep roots in the soil in a area of the country with little rainfall and constant winds. By the 1930s, the area was dominated by family farms, "sodbusters" who plowed up the grasslands to plant wheat, removing the natural grasses within a fairly short time. A drought, high temperatures, and high winds soon ripped off the top soil scattering tons of soil built up over millenia. The resulting disaster killed humans and animals, blacked out skies, and isolated whole towns. Timothy Egan research of the causes and effects of the Dust Bowl has created a cautionary tale of what ignorance and greed can do to the land that must sustain us, and how present government policies might create it once again. The Worst Hard Time has received positive reviews with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying, "Personal stories of wrenching heartbreak fill The Worst Hard Time. Egan expertly knits unpublished diaries, newspaper archives, official reports and survivor interviews into a jaw-dropping page-turner of narrative that continually commands the question: How could people survive this?"
Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for nonfiction