KU this morning announced its second-ever Common Book: "The Worst Hard Time," an account of families who lived through the Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan.
The book will be distributed to all incoming freshmen during orientation next summer, and they'll be urged to read it before classes start in August. Programs incorporating the book will take place next fall, including a visit from Egan, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter.
The program is part of KU's efforts to connect and involve freshmen and improve retention rates.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a release that Egan's book was appropriate for several reasons, as Kansas was obviously struck hard by the Dust Bowl, and environmental issues are still prominent here today.
Egan and his book also have a bit of a KU connection: Egan served along with recently retired KU historian Donald Worster as an adviser on the Ken Burns "Dust Bowl" documentary that aired recently on PBS. And to hear Worster's wife tell it, "The Worst Hard Time" was inspired at least in part by Egan's reading Worster's own book on the subject, "Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s."
It was chosen by a committee from a pool of 125 nominations at the same time as KU's first Common Book, "Notes from No Man's Land" by Eula Biss, which was picked for this school year.