The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan narrated by, Patrick Lawlor
I have seen Ken Burns’ Dust Bowl Documentary on PBS which was quite fascinating so when this was picked for book club I was very interested in reading this book. I found that it put a face on the stories as we followed a few families through the lush beginnings to the terrible endings. I can’t even imagine looking up and seeing a 12,000 foot wall of dirt headed right towards you.
These people were made of stronger stuff than I or probably anyone living today, and that is scary because this could easily happen again. I can’t imagine living in a dugout, or the tar paper shacks which were supposed to be just temporary until the crops paid off but that was where they were still living when the worst of the dust and drought hit. To be living literally in a hole in the ground with your children while dirt so thick swirls around and in your “home” and the poor babies breathing in this dirt, my heart just broke for these people.
I did have a favorite family and that was Bam White’s family this man fought and fought even when there was nothing to fight for. I also thought Hazel Shaw was pretty amazing after everything she went through she still wanted to feel like everything was okay and for her that meant wearing her white gloves every time she put them on I felt like they were her fighting gloves with these on I know I can make it.
All of these people just looking to make a living and provide for their families and things went so horribly wrong, honestly that any of them survived is a tribute to them. I felt so bad that even before the worst happened so many were swindled not only by the banks but by the land dealers there was a lot of corruption that was for sure.
I was also fascinated with this Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray, what a character my goodness some of the things that came out of his mouth wowza I can’t imagine in this social media age what people would say about him. His racism was awful.
Now for the narration, Patrick Lawlor’s narration was very well done it was a semi straight read but yet with emotion, you could tell he enjoyed telling this story and read it like a storyteller which I appreciated I was glad he didn’t do any accents of these immigrants because I think that would have distracted me from the telling. There were a few accents but they were people that needed it I think that Alfalfa Bill saying his three C’s it needed a slight accent.
This was an awful time in our nation’s history between the depression, the dust storms, the drought and unemployment these people lived through some of the toughest times we’ve seen the ones that survived came through tougher than we could ever be. And we should all hope that it never happens again and thank Hugh Bennett for starting Soil Conservation Districts because without these programs like CRP (planting fields to native grass for so many years to revive the soil) it would have already happened again. Soil is not indestructible and people need to remember that.
The Plow That Broke the Plains
Alfalfa Bill Murray