Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Worst Hard Time, By Timothy Egan

This was an absorbing read for me (although, I am a little partial to historical novels like these). Perhaps this might have been due to the fact that I am a Texan now, but, I was trying to picture those who settled the High Plains and finding it so hard to believe that they actually did. They faced the elements squarely in the eye, mustering un-human strength to tough out daily life. And all I can really say is "wow". Timothy Egan is also an inspiring writer, and painted a vivid picture of how these times actually were through actual survivor's stories.

The Dust Bowl struck the American High Plains in midst of the Great Depression (1931) , lingering till 1939. Before the land was shrouded by this dark curtain that blocked the sun and suffocated life, it was known as a land of opportunity and rich soil to plant one's dreams in. Many were duped into thinking it as such, as greedy connoisseurs tried to settle the land as fast as they could, charming eager ears with false promises.
Nonetheless, when the settlers arrived and reality had bit them hard, they set to work with determination, to make the land their own, despite the disappointments.

Through the heartbreak of the dust storms, the heat, the locust swarms, and loss of life, my heart grew in a great appreciation for those before us, living a life that we cannot even imagine. I could go on and on, but I would just encourage you to read it - and now, I am off to read our next book ;)



At 10:23 AM, Blogger Queen of Carrots said...

I'm still reading this book, but it is quite a fascinating read. My mother grew up in this area (two decades later) and dust storms were still a common part of life.

The only quibble I have is the many different threads of personal stories get rather disconnected--I think it's a newspaper style of writing that doesn't translate that well to a book. But it is excellent journalism.

The whole book does make you not want to complain about anything. And take good care of your dirt. :-)

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Rose said...

I just got this from the library and am still on the first chapter, but I'm already fascinated. I've heard about the Dirty Thirties, of course, but quite frankly I had NO idea the great Dust Bowl was anywhere near this bad. I've never heard of dust pneumonia or of storms blocking out the sunlight for days at a time (sounds like The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls!) The devastation and the heartbreak is going to be very painful to read about. Now (starting at the beginning, past the preface) I'm going to be reading about how it got to be that way, which will be very morbid and anticipatory of doom.

So far, I like the writing style. It's dramatic and compelling without being over the top, and I can clearly picture what he writes in my mind. The people seem real, which is good for a non-fiction book.

I think the most gripping part will be the identifying factor, as I start to think, 'If it got this bad, would I stay or go? Would I send my child away from the devastation in hopes of a better life?'


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