President's Reading Program Book Announced

'The Worst Hard Time' is the must-read book for the upcoming academic year.

“The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by New York Times journalist Timothy Egan is the Texas Tech University President’s Reading Program book (formerly the Texas Tech summer reading program) for 2012.

“The reading program is a learning opportunity designed to prepare students for the academic rigors of a college environment; but the entire campus community is encouraged to participate,” said Amy Murphy, Texas Tech’s dean of students. “The program involves reading the selected book over the summer and engaging in discussions and other activities during the fall and spring semesters.”

This year’s President’s Reading Program book was selected in partnership with the university’s Presidential Lecture & Performance Series, which will host the visit from Egan at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Allen Theatre in the Student Union Building. A book signing will follow his presentation.

“This selection allows the opportunity for the campus community to hear from the author, Timothy Egan, in Lubbock in the fall,” said Jo Moore, administrator of the series. “Egan’s book also features West Texas and communities surrounding Texas Tech, so it gives students an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of this area. A variety of themes are present in the book, allowing virtually any discipline an opportunity to utilize the book in class assignments and projects. The characters in the book are engaging and the stories occur during a critical time in American history. Overall, everyone can relate to the underlying themes of persistence, endurance and survival.”

The American history book, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, won Egan the 2006 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Considered one of the highest literary honors, the award recognizes Egan’s account of those who survived the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Thought to be the worst ecological disaster in American history, this book provided the source material for filmmaker Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” airing Nov. 18-19 on KTTZ-TV (Channel 5).

Broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite (1916-2009) said of the book, “As one who, as a young reporter, survived and reported on the great Dust Bowl disaster, I recommend this book as a dramatic, exciting, and accurate account of that incredible and deadly phenomenon. This is can’t-put-it-down history.”

The book also won the 2006 Washington State Book Award in History/Biography.

Find out more about the President’s Reading Program at



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