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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous!
It is rare indeed to find an author with the talent that Erik Larson has shown in writing this book. In writing historical accounts, many authors do a fine job of research and tell their story in a very readable manner, but seldom does an author do as well in both areas as does Larson. In reading this account of the great hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas in...
Published on 25 Aug. 2004 by Dennis Phillips

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suffers from a lack of photos
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 foreward and backward. The two things I found most lacking were that not enough of the geopgraphy of Galveston was included (more maps wuld heve helped), and a complete lack of photographs...
Published on 4 Sept. 1999


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous!, 25 Aug. 2004
By 
Dennis Phillips "The Book Friar" (Bulls Gap, Tennessee USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It is rare indeed to find an author with the talent that Erik Larson has shown in writing this book. In writing historical accounts, many authors do a fine job of research and tell their story in a very readable manner, but seldom does an author do as well in both areas as does Larson. In reading this account of the great hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas in September of 1900 I was often reminded of David McCullough's riveting account of the Johnstown flood that preceded this disaster by eleven years. An author can't keep much higher company than that.
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. One can sense in Larson's words the joy of children playing in the rising water and the fascination of the adults as the waves destroy a series of bathhouses. Then the reader feels the emotions begin to change as fear starts to creep into people's minds. The terror that these people begin to feel is so well communicated that the reader is caught up in the storm with it's victims and I found myself unable to put the book down until I found out what happened to these people.
After the storm passes, Larson works his literary magic yet again in describing the carnage and the sadness left behind. The reader will almost mourn with the survivors as they try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Each and every story becomes a testimonial to the spirit of those who survived the storm and will inspire as well as sadden. I really regret that I waited so long to read this book for it is one of the best works I have read in a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Twist on a Horrific Event, 29 May 1999
By A Customer
Having been fortunate enough to obtain an advance-release copy of Erik Larson's book "Isaac's Storm," I feel it is safe to say that it is a departure from the norm -- as far as books on Galveston and the Great 1900 Hurricane go. Most authors of books on Galveston and the Galveston Hurricane use notes taken by Isaac Cline (chief weather observer at Galveston in 1900) as their basis for their writings on the 1900 storm. Larson also uses Cline's personal notes, and those of many other survivors. However, he paints a vividly different scene than that any other book on Galveston I have come across. Larson is not afraid to express criticism of Cline and his actions prior to and after the storm. He is also quick to point out that Cline, prior to the 1900 storm, felt that Galveston did not need a seawall. In fact, he believed Galveston safe from any serious threats from storms. This factual book is a must for anyone interested in the history of the Island. The book is loaded with tons new information and new perspectives of this Island City ... a city which was poised for greatness at the turn of the century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent bloodcurdling stuff, 9 Aug. 2000
I bought this as a job lot with eight other books, simply because I like the publisher, and was surprised to find that this was the one I sat down with first and read right through. It's a touch OTT in parts- the author shows remarkable knowledge of the individual psychologies of long dead people- but the narrative is gripping and the point of hubris, though rammed home, is fascinatingly made. A £16.99 book really needs more photographs than this to justify itself, but it's still good meaty reading if you enjoy the nasty- true- life- death genre (Perfect Storm; Into Thin Air etc).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nature and Hubris Collide, 4 Aug. 2008
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On September 8, 1900, a storm roared into Galveston, Texas - a storm that still has the dubious honor of causing U.S. History's greatest loss of human life due to natural disaster. I had heard very little, if anything about this tragedy or the circumstances leading to the egregious death toll, until very near its centennial. According to interviews in relation to the release of this book, this was Erik Larson's experience as well. It was only in doing research on another matter that he stumbled across descriptions of the Great Galveston Storm of 1900, and being an irrepressible weather hound, he was instantly obsessed. This is his readers' good fortune.

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. It is accurate without being dry, and moving without being exploitative. It sheds much needed light on Isaac Cline and his storm, and I'm glad that Erik Larson was distracted from his original research and led down the path to Galveston.

Word of warning - some of the stories are necessarily speculative, given the amount of time that has passed, but Larson explains his reasons and the credibility of his choices in his extensive notes. Also, natives of Galveston and descendants of the survivors will likely take issue with the less than stellar portrayal of Isaac Cline. I suspect Larson's take on Cline's actions on September 8 is relatively close to the truth, but I don't think it will sit well with some.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Eric Larson book, 24 July 2012
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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 technological advances. Instead of the amazing feats of the 1893 World's Fair, this time he tackles weather forecasting and the creation of the US Weather Bureau. Despite achievements in this science, determining the weather was still risky business, especially at the turn of the century. The Weather Bureau's need to project a positive and worthwhile image and Cline's presumption that man could somehow outwit nature, led, in no small part, to the catastrophic events of September 8, 1900. Larson gives us a sweeping overview of these background events, at the same time taking us in to the world of Galveston, the town, the people, and the atmosphere, at the dawn of the twentieth century. We trace their lives and the life of the hurricane, until they finally meet with tragic consequences. But it's no longer just numbers. It's the real people we've come to know and real lives lost that terrible day. Larson is a master of historical narrative. This is a good read and definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading about the Great Storm of 1900!, 6 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
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. We have always only been told what a "hero" Isaac Cline was, and I found it so interesting that he was a big reason that Galveston didn't build a seawall in the first place! Fascinating! I couldn't put this book down! Thank you Erik Larson for writing it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Incrdible Story !, 18 Aug. 2014
By 
Bruce Miller "hyper2u" (Louisville, Kentucky and San Diego, California) - See all my reviews
This was an amazing book from start to finish ! It was logically put together in the style and fashion that Erik Larson has done with other books; History comes alive through the well researched characters and events before, during and after the Deadliest Hurricane in history. I was overwhelmed with the descriptive writings of how several of the prominent persons of Galveston spent their final moments as the storm surged and overtook their homes and business's. It was also a story, in hindsight, of how seemingly naive the weather service was and how ineffective it was in predicting the storm. It was the vanity of men and the arrogance of the time that permitted monumental mistakes. Also, no one appeared to be held accountable for the failures and mistakes that occurred. I have a new appreciation for storm warnings and the events of nature which offer predictions of what is to follow. This is a story that needed to be told, and a story that should be a must read for anyone who goes to sea or lives near a costal area. It provides a vivid dimension to the destructive power of storms and Hurricanes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate book for weather and history freaks, 1 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
I found this book fascinating. It is a masterful blend of modern meteorlogical understanding about hurricanes and non-fiction narrative. I am probably more interested in this subject than most folks since I went through Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and I currently live 3 hours away from Galveston. But anyone with a leaning toward meteorology will soak this book up. I particularly enjoyed the physics which were woven into the story... like how many tons of air the hurricane was sucking up, the possible links to earthquakes, the incredible pressure fluctuations, wave physics, etc. But it would prove equally interesting to non-pnysics buffs because of the great human experience (although negative) it portrays. I have never been to Galveston but I am planning to go within a few weeks now that I have read this book. The historical research which went into this book is truly amazing. WELL DONE AND THANKS!!! Bill in Austin, Tx
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5.0 out of 5 stars As emotionally charged and intense as hurricanes themselves, 13 July 1999
By A Customer
In "Isaac's Storm," the deadliest hurricane in history is so real you can taste it -- and can taste the panic of the residents of Galveston as they drown or are crushed to death, as their lives fall apart, as their beautiful homes collapse and their city is destroyed. Through it all is Isaac Cline, the chief weather forecaster of Galveston, who should have seen it coming, and didn't. Erik Larson is a powerful writer and a great spinner of yarns, and he shows us in this wonderful book how a weird combination of things -- human insecurities, sibling rivalry, political ambition, personal responsibility, and the unconquerable Mother Nature herself -- can lead to tragedy. I highly recommend this book, even for people (like me) who don't usually read adventure tales. The lyrical writing and the vivid characters make it hard to put down, harder to forget.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 31 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This is a tragic story told exceptionally well. I read it in one long evening, and was exhausted (in a rewarding way) when I finished. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history, or just a great story.
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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
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