Source of book image: http://www.bookswim.com/images_books/large/The_Worst_Hard_Time_The_Untold_Story_of_Those_Who_Survived_the_Great_American_Dust_Bowl-119185970830588.jpg
Timothy Egan’s book presents an engrossing picture of what life was like in a particular time and place in U.S. history. The time is the 1920s and 1930s, and the place is the lower “high” plains, mainly of Oklahoma and Texas. Egan is a master of telling us meaningful stories about the goals and struggles of particular people, so that we care when the land blows away from them, and they suffer.
You will need, however, to look elsewhere for a deep understanding of the causes of what happened. Egan mainly aims at describing, not explaining. And when he explains, he mainly rounds up the usual suspects one would expect a New York Times reporter to round up (e.g., Herbert Hoover).
(For deeper and more illuminating explanations of what was going on during the worst of the period, you’d do better by consulting Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man.)
References to books mentioned above:
Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
Shlaes, Amity. The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.