Worst Hard Time

The image of thirties “Exodusters” fleeing dirt storms and drought is imprinted on the American consciousness. But in The Worst Hard Time (Houghton Mifflin), Pulitzer Prize–winner Timothy Egan considers instead the nearly one million Dust Bowlers who stayed put—whether from stubbornness or circumstance—to scratch out a meager existence. Egan follows a handful of families in the Texas High Plains, the Oklahoma Panhandle, and elsewhere through the devastation visited on them by the Great Depression and the raging winds that literally peeled the soil off their lands. The Worst Hard Time is a compelling human drama and a reminder that a thoughtless ecological practice (in this case, stripping bare the great grasslands) is an open invitation for Mother Nature to kick butt on a grand scale.

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