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.
"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)
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A Fascinating History
This book is so well written and researched that for me it opened my eyes to a region of America that I knew little about. The story telling added human texture and a deep understanding of the disaster of the dust bowl. I came away from the book able to clearly see why and how it all happened. But more than that I learned about how Oklahoma and the plains were settled. The strength of the people who moved there and stayed there-- no matter what. Storms, isolation, drought, you name it, trouble of every kind and they coped and stuck with it. The book was clearly written by a man totally in love with the place--it shone through on every page. It wasn't an easy story to hear--lots goes wrong--but it was worth it. The best kind of history lesson is a story well told. This book draws the reader in and captivates. Excellent narration. Highly recommended.
more than grapes of wrath