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Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Posted by Sherry on 6/3/2008 in 1934, 20th Century History Project, General, History, Nonfiction, Texas |


The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

“We dream of the faint gurgling sound of dry soil sucking in the grateful moisture, but we wake to another day of wind and dust and hopes deferred.” —Caroline Henderson, 1934.

“We are getting deeper and deeper in dust.” The Boise City News, 1934.

“Our country has been beaten, swept, scarred, and torn by the most adverse weather conditions since June, 1932. It is bare, desolate and damaged. Our people have been buffeted about by every possible kind of misfortune. It has appeared that the hate of all nature has been poured out against us.”John McCarty, editor of the Dalhart, Texas newspaper, The Texan, 1935.

“Three little words, achingly familiar on a Western farmer’s tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent —‘if it rains.'” —Bob Geiger, AP reporter.

“If God can’t make rain in Kansas, how can the New Deal hope to succeed?” —A U.S. congressman on ambitious government plans to renew the soil and bring rain to the Dust Bowl.

An amazing true story. My grandparents and my husband’s parents lived in West Texas during these times and must have experienced some of the drought, dust storms, and hard times chronicled in Egan’s book. But I never heard them talk about anything like the stories in the book: dust so thick that people got lost and ran their cars off the road, respiratory diseases caused by the dust, dusters, clouds of dust so tall they blotted out the sun. I remember dust storms when I was growing up in San Angelo in West Texas, but nothing like the cataclysmic storms of the 1930’s.

4 Comments

  • Mrs. H. says:

    This has definitely been added to my summer reading list. Have you read ‘Rising Tide’ by John M. Barry? It’s about the Mississippi River flood in 1927. The book is wonderfully fascinating, especially since we currently live on one of the only high spots that didn’t flood during the event (of course, our house wasn’t here then). Reading about events that you know your family has lived through truly makes the stories personal.

  • I just saw a brief documentary about this time period on TV.

    I had no idea how LONG the dust bowl lasted.

    One of my friends lives in New Mexico and she talks often about how difficult it is to get water in that area.

  • Carrie says:

    This was one of our Bookfest reads last year but I skipped it. Then I read a bunch of positive reviews so now I’m thinking that I should give it a try.

  • […] Egan also wrote The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, the book I passed out for World Book Night in […]

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