My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We hear a lot about the Great Depression, but the event that truly caused so much hardship for the American people, was not the crash of Wall Street and the banks, but the fact that millions of acres of farmland becoming unusual for years.
Author Timothy Egan utilized interviews with survivors, the diaries and journals of others, plus articles from the newspapers and magazines of the era. Also, going through the reports and papers published by the U.S. government and universities he tells a remarkable tale. Once teeming with millions of buffalo and the home of Native Americans, the U.S. government decided to turn the grasslands of the Great Plains into the farm belt of America.
Egan tells the stories of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of small farms that were urged to plow up the grasslands and turn into the wheat fields that would feed the U.S. Through subsidies and agricultural advice, that turned out to be wrong and even deceitful government and self-interested business people aided in the destruction of an eco-system that had been built over thousands of years. Within half a generation the plains became a desert where the land itself turned deadly.
An amazing story of both courage and enormous stupidity. Also a reminder that the short-term profits that can be made might not be good in the long run. Definitely something that we should be reminded of as things around us seem to be changing and not for the better.
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