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Kat and Kevin Yares
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Stories of Survival:
Arkansas Farmers during the Great Depression
by William D. Downs, Jr.
I purchased this book to get an idea of what Arkansans went through during the Great Depression for a novel, I myself, am currently outlining with the hope of writing later in the fall. Little did I know that this book would hold a place on my bookshelf right next to the Foxfire books (along with their many sister publications) on the shelf.
William Downs, Jr. makes the depression come alive in first person accounts on everything from money to chores to hunger and relief for those who lived through those terrible years. Starting with an overview of cause and effect of the Great Depression in Arkansas, he quickly jumps into oral histories of the times. What makes this real are the pictures of those giving their stories, along with where they were born and raised.
While labeled Arkansas Studies on the back of the book - this book is for anyone who a:) loves the Foxfire series of books or b:) is interested in that time period of American History. It is a book full of 1st person accounts of the times and will pull at your heartstrings (unless you are much like Pres. Hoover at the time). Although technically a textbook, this book reads more like a typical non-fiction memoir of the times.
This book will be read and referenced many times in the coming years. Many parallels can be made between then and the downturn of the economy that we find ourselves living in now. As I read each little tidbit in the many sections, I can only say, "There but for fortune, go I". For those going thru hard times today, these stories will give you hope.
Like the Foxfire books, Stories of Survival will make you laugh and cry. This is a book meant to be read and it covers an era that so many today cannot imagine living in. The stories show the true American spirit that helped the country survive those terrible years of financial depression.
I can highly recommend this book to history buffs but I'll even go a step beyond that and say that this book should be required reading for High Schools all over the country. Just maybe if kids today knew first hand how bad their grandparents (and great grandparents) had it in life, they might not feel so entitled today. (Wishful thinking?)