Isaac's Storm

Isaac's Storm

A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

Book - 1999
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At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.

That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.

In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.

In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c1999.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780609602331
0609602330
Branch Call Number: 976.4139/LARS
Characteristics: 323p. 24cm.
Additional Contributors: Cline, Isaac Monroe

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WhidbeyIslander
Aug 28, 2017

Interesting account of the storm. It seems others dispute the author's conclusions about Cline's actions before the storm, but you will still get a feeling for the terror of the event. The book would have benefited immensely by the addition of photos (which Larson references in the Notes at the end) and a greater detailed map of the city before and after the storm. He mentions many people and it would have been helpful to pinpoint their homes. Also he talks about some Galveston landmarks but doesn't go into details, which even searching the Internet were not forthcoming.

AL_MARCIA Jul 12, 2017

A beautifully written story that is both fascinating and devastating. I loved reading about the individuals caught in an unbelievable disaster in 1900 Galveston. A must read!

e
etfutdet
May 09, 2017

If weather is your thing, you need to read this.

HCL_staff_reviews Dec 01, 2016

In a gripping and absorbing fashion Larson has created a fast-paced narrative about the deadliest hurricane in United States history, in which between 6,000 and 8,000 people died and which destroyed 1/3 of Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. — Jennifer L., Ridgedale Library

AL_LESLEY Nov 23, 2016

Larson is an expert at delivering cold hard facts and gripping horror in the same sentence. A terrifying account of nature's destruction and the consequences of human hubris.

m
MKMSR
Jun 01, 2016

Erik Lawson did a remarkable job wading through the technical and historical developments in weather prediction building up to to such a devastating natural catastrophe. While the early reading is dry and factual, the description of the storm itself makes this a worthwhile read.

1051emma Oct 22, 2014

a great read

t
tocch101
Feb 03, 2013

An interesting, but heartbreaking tale. The story seems to move a little slowly for a while, but speeds up later on. The facts and letters seem very well incorporated.

s
sdsmith12
Jan 20, 2013

This is a great book for those who enjoy learning about weather and the history of weather forecasting. It goes into great detail about how people in history predicted storms. I learned a lot from this book, but personally I felt it was difficult to get into. Unless you find weather fascinating, it might be hard book to finish.

z
zipread
Mar 29, 2012

Isaac’s Storm --- by Erik Larson You might be forgiven for mistaking this book for a work of fiction. It is exciting and riveting enough; it has a tremendous plot and would make a tremendous movie perhaps even to rival Titanic. So you might be surprised to learn it is in fact fact. Isaac is a weather observer in Galveston Texas, at the start of the twentieth century in the employ of what is later to become the US weather office. It is a time of great optimism and a believed that everything that there is to be known about great storms is known and that none can reach Galveston: it is a time of great Hubris. This is something which shall come to revisit the city. The book is really very difficult to put down. The suspense builds exponentially. The weather, the great storm , wreak mayhem upon city. Erik has the knack for actually putting you in the storm. Yes, this is the second time I have read this book. It is better than the first.

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