- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (2 Sept. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857028414
- ISBN-13: 978-1857028416
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.7 x 3.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 617,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Isaac's Storm: The Drowning of Galveston, 8 September 1900 Hardcover – 2 Sep 1999
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On September 8, 1900, a massive hurricane slammed into Galveston, Texas. A tidal surge of some four feet in as many seconds inundated the city, while the wind destroyed thousands of buildings. When the water and winds subsided, entire streets had disappeared and as many as 10,000 were dead--making this the worst natural disaster in America's history.
In Isaac's Storm, Erik Larson blends science and history to tell the story of Galveston, its people, and the hurricane that devastated them. Drawing from hundreds of personal reminiscences of the storm, Larson follows individuals through the fateful day and the storm's aftermath. There's Louisa Rollfing, who begged her husband August not to go into town the morning of the storm; the Ursuline Sisters at St. Mary's orphanage who tied their charges to lengths of clothesline to keep them together; Judson Palmer, who huddled in his bathroom with his family and neighbours, hoping to ride out the storm. At the centre of it all was Isaac Cline, employee of the nascent Weather Bureau, and his younger brother--and rival weatherman-- Joseph. Larson does an excellent job of piecing together Isaac's life and reveals that Isaac was not the quick- thinking hero he claimed to be after the storm ended. The storm itself, however, is the book's true protagonist--and Larson describes its nuances in horrific detail.
At times the prose is a touch too purple, but Larson is engaging and keeps the book's tempo rising in pace with the wind and waves. Overall, Isaac's Storm recaptures at a time when, standing in the first year of the century, Americans felt like they ruled the world--and that even the weather was no real threat to their supremacy. Nature proved them wrong. --Sunny Delaney
Gripping, informative and imaginative’
‘Roof slates became spinning blades… a timely and chillingly detailed reminder of what nature can do.’
Mail on Sunday
‘Mixing individual narratives of the townsfolk and a history of the Weather Bureau with terrific descriptions the evolving storm, Larson cooks up an awesome tale.‘
‘Dickensian… A scholarly and factual book that reads like fiction.’
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not only the story of a hurricane though, it is also the story of Isaac Cline and to some extent the story of Issac's employer the national weather bureau. As is often the case with men of science, Cline allowed himself to believe that science had an answer for everything and Mother Nature taught him a lesson in reality, the hard way. Larson explores Cline's mistakes and leaves the reader with no doubt that the head of the Galveston weather bureau bears some responsibility for the thousands of deaths caused by the hurricane. There is much more blame however to be shared by a group of smug bureaucrats that tried to discredit Cuban forecasters who had accurately predicted the hurricane's path. Cline accepted his responsibility while the others simply refused to admit error.
Larson takes the reader through Cline's career as well as the events leading up to the storm. The tension builds as the reader, who knows what is coming is then introduced to several citizens of Galveston. The author then leads the reader through the storm in riveting accounts told by survivors, especially those to whom he has introduced the reader earlier.Read more ›
How the magnitude of this storm could have been so tragically misread is something that is still debated among meteorologists, but Mr. Larson shows quite clearly the confluence of human error, arrogance and politics that created an environment ripe for just such a catastrophe. Competing weather bureaus, the concern about causing "undue panic" only to have the storm be less severe than predicted (observers weren't even allowed to use the word "hurricane"), among other things, all added up to a situation that caused the deaths of between 6,000 and 10,000 people.
Along with the individual stories taken from oral histories of the survivors, which left me torn between tears and anger, I got a thorough, yet concise history of how hurricane prediction grew from mere observation of storms as they happened, to understanding of conditions that were conducive to a storm's creation. It is history and science, quickly-paced and very interesting; knowledge imparted before I was even aware I was learning something. Very sneaky, that Larson.
As much as I hate to use the phrase "reads like a novel," this book truly does.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the second of Erik Larson's books I have read and it did not disappoint. The author has a great way of building up to the climax of the disaster in Galveston in 1900 and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mrs. V. J. Low
does not hold the imagination as much as other erik Larsen books I have read,i am having a hard time getting to the end of itPublished 19 months ago by bridget angela connolly
This is the true story about America's most deadly natural disaster. Before storms were named this storm really was the storm of the century. Read morePublished on 23 Oct. 2013 by Andy H
Read as a "Bookclub choice"
Wasn't looking forward to starting it. Began on Saturday late afternoon and finished by Sunday at 11am!! Read more
Like his most famous book,The Devil In The White City, Eric Larson has mastered the technique of showing both the incredible advantages and underlying darkside of modern... Read morePublished on 24 July 2012 by R Helen
As a local (I've lived within a half hour of Galveston all of my life), I have been interested in the Great Storm since I first learned about it as a child. Read morePublished on 6 Sept. 1999
Obviously very well researched, but written in a choppy, skip here- skip there manner. A book about a hurricane should follow the progression of the storm over time, not skip... Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 1999
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