As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage.
The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in
the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing
ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people
that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer
Prizewinning New York Times journalist and author
Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their
communities through the rise and fall of the region,
going from sod homes to new framed houses to huddling in
basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a
futile effort to keep the dust out. He follows their
desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black
blizzards, crop failure, and the deaths of loved ones.
Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and
survivedthose who, now in their eighties and nineties,
will soon carry their memories to the graveEgan tells a
story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of
the Great Depression.
As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage. Combining the human drama of Isaac's Storm with the sweep of The American People in the Great Depression, The Worst Hard Time is a lasting and important work of American history.
Winner of the 2006 National Book Award.
They had been on the road for six days, a clan of five bouncing along in a tired wagon, when Bam White woke to some bad news. One of his horses was dead. It was the nineteenth-century equivalent of a flat tire, except this was the winter of 1926. The Whites had no money. They were moving from the high desert chill of Las Animas, Colorado, to Littlefield, Texas, south of Amarillo, to start anew. Bam White was a ranch hand, a lover of horses and empty skies, at a time when the cowboy was becoming a museum piece in Texas and an icon in Hollywood. Within a year, Charles Lindbergh would cross the ocean in his monoplane, and a white man in blackface would speak from the screen of a motion picture show. The great ranches had been fenced, platted, subdivided, upturned, and were going out to city builders, oil drillers, and sodbusters. The least-populated part of Texas was open for business and riding high in the Roaring Twenties. Overnight, new towns ...
While Egan has nothing but admiration for the individual farmers caught up in the devastation, he has a harsher view for the policies, and the people behind the policies, that managed to eradicate the "greatest grassland in the world" in an historical blink of an eye.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (668 words).
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%...
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