Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Worst Hard Time, 35/81, 2nd Round

The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, non-fiction category

Having lived in Oklahoma during my high school years and traveled across the state often on my way to visit grandparents, I have seen a lot of the country covered in this heartbreaking story of the Dust Bowl. That may be one of the reasons why I picked up this book. The other reason, of course, is that so many other LT people were reading it and recommending it.

I had learned a little bit of the history of this time in school, including learning about Roosevelt's New Deal economics and how it affected farmers. But I have to admit that I didn't really understand what caused the terrible storms until I read this. Living in a dry country myself, I can see how hard it would be to try and get a living from the soil without rain. But here I have the mountains to break up the wind. Out on the prairies, there's nothing for miles and miles, and the wind just goes on and on. Without that grass to hold onto the dirt, it will just fly away. And the pressures on the farmers to plow more and more land left them with no understanding of why soil conservation is critical to keeping a nation from going hungry.

The stories told and the writing were indeed remarkable. I really got the feeling of how desperate a time it must have been. And those black and white photos of the storms and the dust they left behind were amazing.

But I didn't really enjoy this book. Maybe that was BECAUSE it was so well written, that I found it extremely depressing. Great, another story of how the dust killed off the cattle, the children, the land itself. It was a little more than I could imagine at times.

I think this might have been a case of right book, wrong time. I have so much going on in my life right now that I'm just not up to major drama and heartbreak in my book too.

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