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home : blogs_old : tone's book zone May 22, 2015

Tone's Book Zone
By Sue Tone
A blog for readers and book lovers. Postings will include information on book festivals, library activities, local authors, classroom visits, book groups, writing and publishing tips, reviews, bookmakers and bookmaking, and how volunteers can help children and adults acquire a love of reading.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Discoveries at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books

 by Sue Tone

I'm not yet recovered from two jam-packed days at the fourth annual Tucson Festival of Books, March 10-11. If you didn't notice from my enthusiastic posts (three of them!) from this past year, the Festival is something I've looked forward to since the end of the event in 2011.

The nation's third largest book festival attracted 100,000 book lovers and 450 authors and panelists. Narrowing down the choices of who to hear was difficult, but I managed to see presentations by authors Alice Hoffman, Lisa See, Luis Urrea, Jack Gantos, Richard Russo, Pete Dexter, Nancy Turner, T. Jefferson Parker, and some lesser known authors to me like Kim Edwards, Jane Green, Mary Doria Russell, and Naomi Benaron.

I found Jimmye Hillman, 89, especially inspiring. Jimmye ("Call me Jimmye," he told fellow panelists Michael Hiltzik and Timothy Egan who addressed him as Dr. Hillman) started writing his memoir about the Great Depression at age 80. His book is called Hogs, Mules and Yellow Dogs: Growing up on a Mississippi Subsistence Farm.

While Jimmye talked about real life experiences and reiterated several times how there is NO COMPARISON to the Great Depression and the "grand recession," Egan said he checked out his son's textbook for an AP History class and found a single paragraph on the Depression years. "It doesn't do credit to this epic event," he said.

Egan called the Great Depression the worst environmental disaster and the worst economic disaster in U.S. history. On Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, he said there was more dirt in the air than all the dirt excavated from the Panama Canal - which took seven years to dig, by the way. In the 1930s, 33 percent of Americans worked the land, he said. Today, it's less than 1 percent. Egan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the NY Times, wrote The Worst Hard Time, the non-fiction account of those who lived through the Dust Bowl.

Hiltzik, another Pulitzer Prize winner and a columnist for the LA Times, wrote The New Deal: A Modern History. He said President Obama has Franklin Roosevelt's efforts - successful and not so successful - to use as a model for the current recession. Roosevelt had no model, and so was determined to try everything. If something didn't work, he said he would discard it and try something else.

The numbers of people who lived during the Great Depression are dwindling fast. If you know someone who can talk about this time period, it's vital we record the stories before it's too late. And if you have relatives who passed away and who spoke of their experiences, record those secondhand tales, too. The younger generation could use the information for their families' survival and wellbeing.

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