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Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood…
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Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 (2003)

by Stephen Puleo

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4842221,248 (3.91)85
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» See also 85 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
The "dark tide" of the title refers to the flood of molasses that was unleashed on Boston's North End in January 1919. The molasses had been stored in an above-ground tank and the tank collapsed one day, killing several people, permanently disabling others, and causing extensive property damage. This book talks about the flood and the inquiry into why the tank collapse, but also talks about events from about five years before to five years after the incident. This context illustrates the conditions under which the tank was allowed to be built and the consequences of the incident on the city of Boston and the US as a whole. Overall, the book is well written and does not overstay its welcome. Because this incident is not really discussed in book form, the author drew heavily on primary sources and these quotes from testimony and the judge's report on the liability from the incident bring all the details to life. I did find some of the in-text citations a bit puzzling or jarring, such as whenever historian Paul Avrich was mentioned, but the vast majority of the book does an effective job at recounting an incident that sounds like the stuff of farce but must have been horrific for the people involved to go through. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Oct 25, 2016 |
I found Stephen Puleo's "Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919" so disappointing that I didn't come close to finishing it. I really detested Puleo's storytelling style so much that I ended up closing the book before getting to the actual flood.

Puleo irritated me right off the bat in his introduction where he congratulates himself the book. I'm sure the molasses flood is not something that most people know about .... but it isn't some sort of state secret if you grew up in the Boston area. It was well-covered in history classes many times during my school days.

I hate when historical books tell me what people were thinking (unless, of course, there are diary entries and the like to back up those suppositions.) Puleo does this constantly -- the bar owner, who sat on his step the day before the molasses flood, breathing in the air and thinking about his future quiet home in Revere was absolutely ridiculous. At 3 a.m., he was probably walking into the door happy to be going to bed after a long day. I also found the repetition in the book grating... in the first 20 pages, Puleo notes that molasses are used to make industrial alcohol, which is used to make munitions, no less than three times. My memory works well enough that I don't need a reminder every three seconds of something you've already written.

At any rate, I disliked this book so much that I decided to move on without finishing it. ( )
  amerynth | Sep 16, 2016 |
This is a well researched and fascinating book. The author greatly expands the scope of the story from the molasses disaster to include WWI, the rise of anarchists and the effect of the full blooming of the industrial revolution in the US. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 24, 2015 |
An excellent account of a Boston disaster. ( )
  niquetteb | Jul 10, 2015 |
Interesting, well-written, and in depth on a matter I knew a little about but only a little - it's a couple verses in a favorite song I know (Molasses Rum, which I learned from the band Schooner Fare). It does focus strongly on the civil trial that (more-or-less) ended the matter - partly, I suspect, because the transcripts of the trial were his primary source material. The beginning is more interesting to me, as it sets the scene for the collapse of the molasses tank - it's a little hard to keep track, since he keeps jumping back and forth in time, but other than that it's quite good. We get to see the people and businesses around the tank, and understand how it affected them while it still stood; then, about 2/3rds of the way through the book, the tank actually collapses and a good long chunk of the book details the effects of the wave of molasses. We get to see those who were saved, and those who weren't, and their families; the physical destruction caused by the molasses, and the mental and emotional strain of the disaster. The final part focuses on the civil trial; the man who presided, Ogden, has already been described at several points in the book (part of that jumping back and forth) before the trial is detailed. I learned a lot, both about the molasses flood and about the culture of the time and place. Glad I read it. ( )
1 vote jjmcgaffey | Mar 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
The sections of the book devoted to actually recounting the flood and the trial are the best moments in the book, particularly the snippets of newspaper articles and court transcripts Puleo includes. Though these sections probably occupy just as many pages as the historical background, they are more interesting and have better dramatic pacing.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Kate
Your eyes smile, my heart dances
First words
Isaac Gonzales knew what a terrible thing it was to be afraid at night.
Author's Note:  This is the first full accounting of the Great Boston Molasses Flood.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Boston molasses

tank collapses; destroys lives.

Corporate neglect!

(librarianlk)
Molasses flood was

Sticky situation but

Nothing to laugh at.

(legallypuzzled)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807050210, Paperback)

Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters was playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like roaring surf, one of them said later. Like a runaway two-horse team smashing through a fence, said another. A third firefighter jumped up from his chair to look out a window-"Oh my God!" he shouted to the other men, "Run!"

A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston's waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour. It demolished wooden homes, even the brick fire station. The number of dead wasn't known for days. It would be years before a landmark court battle determined who was responsible for the disaster.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters was playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like roaring surf, one of them said later. Like a runaway two-horse team smashing through a fence, said another. A third firefighter jumped up from his chair to look out a window. "Oh my God!" he shouted to the other men, "Run!" A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston's waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour. It demolished wooden homes, even the brick fire station. The number of dead wasn't known for days. It would be years before a landmark court battle determined who was responsible for the disaster. - Back cover.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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