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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History (1999)

by Erik Larson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,4891212,861 (4.01)304
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 the 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 when human arrogance meets the uncontrollable force of nature.… (more)
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» See also 304 mentions

English (118)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (120)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Completely terrifying account of a superstorm and its horrific aftermath, set in the bright, shiny city of Galveston, Texas in September, 1900. ( )
  FinallyJones | Nov 17, 2021 |
An account of the 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas, with a particular focus on Isaac Cline, who was an officer of the US Weather Bureau in Galveston, and who lost his home and his wife in the storm.

The second half of the book, describing the events of the storm and their aftermath, is pretty engaging, in a horrible and depressing sort of way. The first half, however, which has a lot to say about things like Cline's life, the state of weather forecasting at the time, the personalities of people in the Weather Bureau, and the growth of Galveston, is a lot more dry. (Horrible, tasteless pun very much not intended.) And Larson sometimes way overcompensates for this fact by over-writing in an attempt to make such things feel DRAMATIC and OMINOUS, an approach that backfires a bit for him, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Still, there are a lot of interesting tidbits of information there. And there is a low-key but pervasive thread of commentary through the whole book about how the state of weather forecasting at the time was just good enough to foster overconfidence without being good enough to actually prevent this sort of horror, and about the ways in which ego and politics got in the way of acting properly on the information that was available. Although, since this book was published in 1999, the relevance of all of this to any 21st century hurricanes and other climate problems must remain as an exercise for the reader. ( )
  bragan | Nov 3, 2021 |
This was a reread during our recent trip to Galveston. It’s a wonderful example of nonfiction done well. As the timeline unfolds in the storm approaches we become invested in the real people navigating their days in the Texas port city. When the hurricane hits the loss of life and devastation are unfathomable. Highly recommended, especially if you were visiting Texas anytime soon! ( )
  bookworm12 | Oct 20, 2021 |
Another Erik Larson gem. Larson always tells a story of tragedy, conflict, and often disaster and always through the lives of people who are like our friends and neighbors, or even ourselves. Larson’s writing is always top notch. His nonfiction books read like literature. “Isaac’s Storm” is a terrific read. ( )
  DanDiercks | Aug 19, 2021 |
Fascinating read. ( )
  3CatMom | Dec 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erik Larsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Henderson, LeonardDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tran, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Washington, D.C.

Sept. 9, 1900

To: Manager, Western Union

Houston, Texas

Do you hear anything about Galveston?

Willis L. Moore,

Chief, U.S. Weather Bureau

Dedication
For Chris, Kristen, Lauren, and Erin.
First words
Throughout the night of Friday, September 7, 1900, Isaac Monroe Cline found himself waking up to a persistent state of something gone wrong.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 the 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 when human arrogance meets the uncontrollable force of nature.

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