The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan

Book 53

I don’t know why I thought it would be cool to read a book about how gawdawful it was to live in the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s, but there it is.

Egan writes about a whole bunch of families in several different towns in the southern Plains of the United States, beginning with their settlement several decades earlier.

Confession:  I hadn’t realized how very much of this tragedy was man-made.  Apparently, the price of wheat skyrocketed and people moved in and plowed every last acre of grassland such that when the drought came, all of the top soil blew away.  Except it was much uglier than that.

“Dust Pneumonia” was added to my vocabulary.  Gross.

There is a lot about Roosevelt, and politics in general.  Obviously, a lot about the nature of rural poverty.  The narrative pulls together really well.  I must say that it started to lose me near the end.  There is only so much starving and choking on dirt (people and farm animals) and waiting until next season that one can stand.   But overall it is a readable history on a chapter of American history I hadn’t known much about.  Glad I read it.

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