Timothy Egan is a national enterprise reporter for The New York Times and has a weekly column, "Outposts." He is the author of seven books and the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. The Worst Hard Time won the 2006 National Book Award in the nonfiction category. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Timothy Egan's website
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A Conversation with Timothy Egan about The Worst Hard Time
Why a book on the Dust Bowl now?
The story of the people who lived through the nation's hardest economic depression and its worst weather event is one of the great untold stories of the Greatest Generation. To me, there was an urgency to get this story now because the last of the people who lived through those dark years are in their final days. It's their story, and I didn't want them to take this narrative of horror and persistence to the grave. At the same time, this part of America the rural counties of the Great Plains looks like it's dying. Our rural past seems so distant, like Dorothy's Kansas in The Wizard of Oz. Yet it was within the lifetime of people living today that nearly one in three Americans worked on a farm. Now, the site of the old Dust Bowl which covers parts of five states is largely devoid of young families and emptying out by the day. It's flyover country to most Americans. But it holds this remarkable tale that should be a larger part of our shared national story.
Do you see any parallels between the Dust Bowl and Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster of our time?
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