Marta'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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May 07, 2012

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bookshelves: book-club, historical, nonfiction
Read from May 16 to July 16, 2012

This would have been an excellent book... had it been shorter. I have learned a great deal about a part of American history that I had no knowledge of. How this environmental and economic catastrophe has come to be, and the experiences of the people who came there and tried to make a living out of nothing, and ended up destroying the earth - without knowing that they were doing it.

There are harsh lessons to be learned - these people had no idea what would happen - the government encouraged farming of the High Plains, and they were just trying to do what farmers do - plant crops. It took a higher influence to get in there - no one in there right mind would have farmed there without government endorsement - and it took a higher influence to climb out of it - the government had to come up with what needed to be done and teach people to do it. There was no way they could have done that on their own.

Therein lies the main drawback of the book - it spends way too much time on how much people suffered and very little on how the problem was actually solved. I felt that Timothy Egan did a lot of (great, and very detailed) research on the subject and wanted it ALL in the book - and disregarded how repetitive it got. Yes, we get it, it was really, really bad. Yes, we get it, it affected a lot of people. Yes, we get it, it was bad in 1933, and 34, and 35, but really, do we need to have the same amount of detail of 36, 37 and 38 as well?

With some editing, and including more context - like how the general depression was affecting America - this would have been a great book. In the middle, it read really well. If it was shorter, it would be a four star book.

I still recommend it - a worthwhile learning experience - just brace yourself for the long descriptions of how bad it was.
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