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

Timothy Egan
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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Egan tells an extraordinary tale in this visceral account of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl. But the plague was man-made, as Egan shows: the plains weren't suited to farming, and plowing up the grass to plant wheat, along with a confluence of economic disaster—the Depression—and natural disaster—eight years of drought—resulted in an ecological and human catastrophe that Egan details with stunning specificity. He grounds his tale in portraits of the people who settled the plains: hardy Americans and immigrants desperate for a piece of land to call their own and lured by the lies of promoters who said the ground was arable. Egan's interviews with survivors produce tales of courage and suffering: Hazel Lucas, for instance, dared to give birth in the midst of the blight only to see her baby die of "dust pneumonia" when her lungs clogged with the airborne dirt. 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. (Dec. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Following the fortunes of representative settlers of the southern Great Plains, Egan's narrative of the dust bowl during the Depression begins with the seeds of environmental disaster. The area was the last tract of the continental U.S. to be homesteaded, the last episode of open-land real-estate showmanship that enticed people to start over. "Settlement was a dare," writes Egan, a dare of plowing rain-sparse, blustery grassland. And briefly, around World War I's inflated grain prices, the dare paid off: towns materialized on the horizon, homesteaders such as Bam White moved in, cheered on by boosters like John McCarty, editor of the Dalhart Texan. "Every man a landlord" was the slogan of the era, a banner of optimism that eroded into despair due to dust storms of relentlessly increasing ferocity. In vivid fashion, Egan reports on the grit, the drifts, and the figures bent against the gusts. All the elements of the iconic dust bowl photographs come together in the author's evocative portrait of those who first prospered and then suffered during the 1930s drought. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2891 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 353 Seiten
  • Verlag: Mariner Books; Auflage: Reprint (1. September 2006)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004H1UOSG
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #225.205 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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"The worst hard time" geht zurück in das Amerika der zwanziger und dreißiger Jahre des vergangenen Jahrhunderts. Sorgsam eingebettet in den historischen Kontext beschreibt der Autor die Besiedelung der Great Plains, welche letztendlich in Überfarmung und der Entstehung der Dust Bowl mündete. Besonders spannend und unterhaltsam gelingt Timothy Egan dabei die Verflechtung von Biografien verschiedener Plainsbewohner in diese menschengemachte Katastrophe.
Fazit: Ein überaus interessantes und spannendes Buch über ein Kapitel der amerikanischen Geschichte, das hierzulande höchstens eine Fußnote im Geschichtsunterricht darstellt; außerdem ein lehrreiches Buch über den Einfluß des Menschen auf seine Umwelt und die (fatalen) Folgen - unbedingt lesenswert.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Bewertung 9. Januar 2012
Das Buch ist phantastisch. Es zeigt, was man von Politik erwarten kann: interessant sind nur die nächsten 5 Minuten = Wahlen. Keine langfristige Planung bzw. Rücksichtnahme! Gleichzeitig könnte es eine Warnung sein, was mit unserer Umwelt verbrochen wird. Aber sind wir in der Lage, Warnungen anzunehmen?
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.5 von 5 Sternen  1.190 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen MY BEST READ OF 2005 19. Dezember 2005
Von D. Blankenship - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Beyond a doubt, this was the best of the books I read during this past year. Having had many family members who were caught up in this, one of the worst natural (actually it seems it was more man made than natural) disasters to strike our country, made this work of even more interest to me. Mr. Eagan has not only given us a wonderful account of this era in our nations history, he has made it come alive through his exceptional story telling abilities. This is not a dry (no pun intended), academic history of the great depression. Rather it is a history of a group of people who lived through the worst of it, the great dust bowl at the center of our country. These are real people and the author treats them as such. Very few meaningless statistics mar the story line, few government reports are offered or cited to reduce the human suffering to neatly typed pieces of paper. As you read this book, you come to realize that these people are just like you and me. You read and ponder "what if?" The book is quite readable, quite informative and one that I will no doubt give a reread to in the near future. Recommend this one highly!
161 von 168 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Ecological Disaster Of The Great Depression 25. Dezember 2005
Von C. Hutton - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
2005 has been a banner year for readable histories about natural disasters (see "A Crack in the World : America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906" by Simon Winchester) and natural disasters compounded by a series of catastrophic human errors (see "Curse of the Narrows : The Halifax Disaster of 1917" by Laura MacDonald). Mr Egan's history falls into the latter category with his story of the Dust Bowl during the Depression.

"The Worst Hard Time" traces the horrific consequences of poor farming practices in the Central Plain States during the drought of the 1930's. It is not a dry book about soil samples and weather charts but a living account of the human cost in fighting against tarantulas & seas of grasshoppers eating every plant in their path while struggling against the "duster" storms that blot out the sun. The reader can think of the Dust Bowl storms as the hurricanes of the Plain States. Illustrated with photographs of the poverty of that era, the reader will be shock and angry at the suffering of those farmers who attempted to ride out those storms.
139 von 145 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Devastating 11. Juni 2007
Von K. Row - Veröffentlicht auf
I was raised by German immigrants much like the folks Egan describes in this book. When I was a teenager I was in part frustrated and perplexed by the scars the Depression and Dust Bowl left on them and our household 40 years after it ended. They were frugal people in the extreme. They made a sport of seeing how much money they could put aside with each paycheck. They never, ever spent money on vacations or in movie theaters. Spending money to eat in a restaurant was a huge deal to these people. Grandma insisted on making all of my clothes until I got a job to buy store bought jeans and t-shirts. Grandpa groused mightily if I wanted anything that cost more than $5. They horded everything from nails (new and used) to toilet paper to toothpaste. For the three of us Grandpa put in a massive kitchen garden in the spring, and Grandma canned enough fruits and vegetables to feed the 9th Calvary every autumn.

Whenever I'd tease them about their ways, I'd get a stern look in return and a lecture about living through the Depression in the Dust Bowl. They'd tell me time and again how lucky I was not to have gone through it, and each time my child self would shrug as if to say, "Whatever."

I didn't really "get" the Dust Bowl or the Depression until I read this book. We're all lucky not to have gone through what these folks did. Imagine having to decide which of your children will get to eat dinner. Imagine being forced to slaughter your starving farm animals because there is absolutely nothing left to feed them. Imagine watching your brothers and sisters slowly choke to death on dust. Imagine going to the ATM for some cash to discover that your bank went out of business yesterday, taking all of your savings and investments with it, and there's nothing you can do to get even a fraction of your money back. Imagine having to abandon your preschoolers to the streets and pray that someone will take them in and feed and cloth them. Imagine holding on to your last quarter for three days before hunger forces you to spend it on a meal, and you have absolutely no idea when or where your next meal is coming from.

Any one of these scenarios would be soul destroying, but all of these things happened to some folks.

My grandparents never really wanted to talk about how they survived the Dust Bowl; they told me a few things, however. Grandpa had to cut the toes out of his only pair a shoes when they grew too small and there was no money to buy a new pair. Grandma lost her youngest brother to an infection because the last doctor had moved out of their town, there was no hospital, and there was no money to pay for medical treatment, anyway. These remembrances came in dribs and drabs; mostly they had an "It's in the past and there's no used in rehashing all those bad times" attitude.

I teared up at times while reading this book, wondering which of the horrors Egan talks about happened to my grandparents. Finally, 20 years into adulthood, I "got" the Depression. I "got" the Dust Bowl.

My Grandma died 20 years ago and my Grandpa in '99. For so many reasons I wish they were still with me, but more than anything else I'd like to tell them that I understand what they went through and that I'm so very sorry it colored the rest of their lives.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The best of books about the worst of times 21. Dezember 2005
Von Gerald Wood Downing - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
My father Bill Downing, was born on a homestead in Indian territory on April 13th 1906, one of eight children of a dry land farmer and livestock trader who drifted from Iowa to the high plains scratching out a living from virgin grasslands. My mother was born in a dugout close to Delphus switch on the Santa Fe line somewhere near Clovis, New Mexico, Dec. 8th 1910. I was born on July 7th 1935 in Canyon,Texas, three months after Black Sunday. This book came to me like a "ghost from Christmas's past"

When I heard an interview with the author on PBS radio I knew I had been deeply touched by my family heritage. I confess I am a child of the depression and of the dust bowl era.

For me this was a hard book to read but impossible to put down. The stories of the real people and events were at times so imbedded in my heart before I read them that I sometimes had to take time to catch my breath and wash the blow dirt out of my eyes and hair before I could read more.

Timothy Egan did his interviews and research on this historical event very well, and has artfully woven them into a true story of heroism, stubborn persistance, ignorance and individual, governmental and societal greed and incompetence. The combination destroyed the great grasslands of North America and the dreams of millions of families and left a scar on the them both. He has also told the story of those on the farms and in government who asked the questions. "What went wrong?", "Can it be fixed?", and "How do we heal a two-fold disaster?" His window into the government and all levels of politics of the period will inform the reader concerned about government and politics of today. When I remember watching my father drill a well in our back yard with a rope, pully, "A" frame and a sharp pipe, or think of the hours I spent turning the soil for our "Victory garden", I am remembering frontier skills.

The view I enjoyed from the top of our windmill was the 80 acre pasture for our milk cow starting just past our front yard. A half mile away were two old farms with shelter belt trees and buried fence posts and the only flowing creek in many miles. Looking over our cow lot and chicken house behind our house I saw five blocks away West Texas State College.

I started first grade on that campus and graduated from the college sixteen years later. As I walked up the slope to school against blue and brown northers, I vowed to leave that country. when I could. Most of my adult life has been spent where the March winds don't start in January and end in July and you could find water deep enough to play in and trees. That doesn't deminish my love and respect for the people who toughed it out and made a life for them selves. I have never met friendlier more loving and compassionate people than small town panhandle farm folks. I believe that going through the worst hard times killed off some, made some a bit strange, and opened the heart of most. I still like to spend time in the old dust bowl country and then go home before the wing throws another handful of gravel in my face.
138 von 152 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Storm After Storm, After Day 15. Februar 2007
Von Z. Blume - Veröffentlicht auf
This book is both one of the most interesting histories I've read in a long time and one of the more dull books I've read in the last year. The first 150 pages, when Egan sets the Dust Bowl scene and introduces us to the people he will follow throughout the story are fantastic. The pace is quick, the details are very insightful and I learned a lot about why the Dust Bowl happened and just how devestating it was. Egan successfully makes the dust storms that ravaged the Panhandle area as fightening as they must have been for inhabitants and it is very moving just how horrible it was for the residents who loved their homesteads enough to suffer horribly to stay on them. After about 100 pages of reading about several storms and the terrible conditions, however, the book slows a lot. The storms never get less intense and the writing itself doesn't falter, but after a while the reader become immune to the horror and it just becomes boring reading about storm after storm which never seem to change. I'm sure the monotony and misery of it all that lasted for several years is what the unforunate farmers of the Dust Bowl endured, but it is hard to read after a while and not very enjoyable.

All in all, I think all people who are interested in American history should read at least the first part of the book to learn about what happened in middle-America during the Depression and how horrible it was for those not in cities. I would caution, however, that the book gets quite dull after a while and there are long stretches between interesting details.
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