Shelley'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 17, 10

Read from April 29 to May 16, 2010

I received a cursory education on the "Dust Bowl" days in high school history class, listened to the folk songs of Woody Guthrie, Nanci Griffith, etc. and watched the Grapes of Wrath. I had no idea how utterly devastating this decade was! This book stunned me and brought me to tears on many occasions. Timothy Egan was able to brilliantly capture in words what you'd think would be indescribable. I was able to connect to the reality in my imagination and feel the desperation in the lives of those struggling on the Great Plains during the 1930's. And to find out this was another instance where the catastrophe was a direct result of humans operating from greed and ignorance, not just Mother Nature's wrath. All could have been avoided, as it had been for centuries during the reign of Native Americans, bison and prairie grass, with a little respect for the interdependence of all living things, including the earth itself. There were voices, even back then, who sounded alarms and urged proper farming techniques to prevent erosion and promote conservation but as with many voices today, they were not heeded until the damage was done. The consequences were 10 long years of unbelievable suffering.

"The worst duster occurred on Black Sunday, April 14, 1935. The storm carried twice as much dirt as was dug out of the earth to create the Panama Canal. The canal took seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was airborne that day."
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05/10/2010 page 160

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