Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Worst Hard Time

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The Worst Hard Time

The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

by Timothy Egan

The Worst Hard Time
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2006, 352 pages

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The economic slump known as the Great Depression began in the USA but ended up effecting Europe, and other industrialized parts of the world from 1929 to about 1939. It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world. The US economy was already in depression before the Stock Market collapse of October 1929, but the precipitous decline in values put great strain on individual investors and financial institutions (by 1933 11,000 of the US's 25,000 banks had been declared insolvent). By 1932 stock prices were at just 20% of their 1929 value and manufacturing output was down 54% due to a drastic reduction of demand; about 12 to 15 million workers were unemployed (about 25-30% of the work force).

Interesting Link: A wealth of information about the Dust Bowl period, including interviews with those who lived through this period, and a timeline from 1930-1939, courtesy of PBS.

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