Does anyone know the greatest natural disaster in American history? I do now after reading "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" (323 pages) by Erik Larson. From the back of the book:
"September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau, failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged by a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over 6,000 people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history - and Isaac Cline found himself victim of a devastating personal tragedy.
Using Cline's own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man's heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Thrilling, powerful, and unrelentingly suspenseful, Isaac's Storm is the story of what can happen human arrogance meets the uncontrollable force of nature."
Not normally a subject matter I would be interested in reading, "Isaac's Storm" drew me in for one reason: Erik Larson. After reading "The Devil in the White City" last year by Larson, I would be willing to read anything he writes on any subject. "Issac's Storm" doesn't disappoint on every level a story can be measured. It has Larson's addictive style and foreshadowing that literally kept me on edge throughout the reading, which I pretty much did in one sitting tonight. The accounts and historical record that the author takes and combines into a story that reads like a fictional thriller is superb. Highly readable and emotional, this isn't a dusty work of non-fiction of the events of a period of time in 1900. I don't think I'll ever be able to shake the description of the 90 nuns and orphans who died in an attempt not to lose anyone by tying each other to ropes as the flood waters were rising in the orphanage... The story is a study of disaster and loss, the technology at the time, and man's hubris all rolled into one.
Highly recommended, one of the best books I've read so far this year. Get up now from your computer, quit your job, abandon the kids and go to a bookstore and buy this book or download it online. It's that good.
Thanks for the book Dann!