Amanda's Reviews > The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
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's review
Aug 06, 2011

I'm amazed at how little I knew about the Dust Bowl before reading this book. I just read The Big Burn (also by Timothy Egan) out loud with Scott and I was totally impressed by Egan's sensitive -- almost poetic -- use of language and metaphor. I didn't previously have any great interest in the national forest service or forest fires, but the writing of the book made it interesting. The Worst Hard Time, Egan's more popular, award-winning book, was even more enjoyable for me. The language was not as flowery, but it was still extremely well written and I thought the topic itself was much more compelling. My paternal grandparents both grew up in large families in Oklahoma during the boom and bust surrounding the Dust Bowl, and I'm surprised I never heard anything about Black Sunday or the black walls of dirt in reference to their history. My only slightly critical observation concerns Egan's extensive quoting from one man's diary, which I am conflicted about. Reading terse, brutally honest assessments of the economic, agricultural, social, and climate-related realities of that time and place was undeniably powerful and I can understand why Egan chose to defer to primary sources, but at times I felt that one or two journal entries would have gotten the point across more powerfully that the twenty Egan included. *NB* If you read this book, you have to go to youtube and look up The Plow that Broke the Plains. It is awesome to see footage of one of the main characters of the books and hear the context and reaction to the government-made documentary.

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