Mar 27, 09
Read in March, 2005
This book is a very sober and painful account of the Great American Dust Bowl. Not only does the author introduce us to very real people and very real families of this, but he shows not just a snapshot but a continuous and very real portrait about how their lives were lived in this area during the thirties.
This book is about greed, stupid farming practices and the misfortune of bad weather and the long lasting results from such, some of which we still endure today. You want to cry with the families, hold their hands and even shout in anger at a government which didn't recognize the plight of these people for the longest time. This book also talks about unsung heroes, people who knew what to do and wouldn't give up in their efforts to try to fix some of the damage. Worst of all, this book depicts a kind of USA which most people don't know about any more. I couldn't even imagine a dust storm a hundred miles or more out in the Atlantic Ocean, but I now know they happened.
The book bogs down badly after about 150 pages and you tend to think that you have seen pretty much all you could see, but it gets continuously worse. By the end, you feel as though that you as a reader have been through the long hopeless existence during this period. There was literally nowhere else for many of these people to go. I cannot imagine what kind of courage it takes to live under those conditions. It makes one think twice about what we do without today.
Still, most of the little pithy history we all learned growing up about the Dust Bowl is sketchy at best and wrong on so many points. You tend to learn the truth from the people who were there, from their own accounts, their own sacrifices and their own lives. This book deserves a read by anyone who wants to understand what the American 30's was really all about. You may get bored halfway through, but by the time you finish it, you will have a very different enhanced perspective about how it really was.