When Trying Harder Doesn’t Work

December 3, 2012

Ken Burns's recent documentary tells the story of the Dust Bowl, blow by blow: the brutally unrelenting natural challenges, the grim perseverance and astonishingly unfailing hope of Depression-era farm families, and the glimmers of actual relief that were quickly followed by even worse calamities. Staring straight at the camera, one stoic survivor states the prevailing frame of mind with blunt candor: "We figured if we failed, we didn't try hard enough. We didn't do anything different the next year, we just tried harder."