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The Johnstown Flood (Kindle edition) por…
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The Johnstown Flood (Kindle edition) (original 1968; edição 1987)

por David McCullough

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1,855606,806 (4.04)195
The stunning story of one of America's great disasters, a preventable tragedy of Gilded Age America, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough. At the end of the nineteenth century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal. Graced by David McCullough's remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing, classic portrait of life in nineteenth-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. It also offers a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are necessarily behaving responsibly.… (mais)
Membro:akakii
Título:The Johnstown Flood (Kindle edition)
Autores:David McCullough
Informação:Simon & Schuster (1987), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:American history; Kindle

Pormenores da obra

The Johnstown Flood por David McCullough (1968)

  1. 20
    A Night to Remember por Walter Lord (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: McCullough dissected Lord's book for style and technique and was "greatly influenced by Walter Lord's example" in writing The Johnstown Flood.
  2. 00
    Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of The Johnstown Flood, America's Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster por Al Roker (Utilizador anónimo)
    Utilizador anónimo: One reviewer on Goodreads claimed that both books are similar with Roker's focusing a bit more of the members of the South Fork club than McCullough does.
  3. 00
    Julie por Catherine Marshall (dara85)
    dara85: Marshall used a lot of the details from the Johnstown Flood to create the flood in the fictional book, Julie.
  4. 00
    Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home por Nando Parrado (dara85)
  5. 00
    The Johnstown Flood por Willis Fletcher Johnson (oregonobsessionz)
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I've started out neutral about the subjects of McCullough's other books—why should I care about the Brooklyn Bridge?—and ended up converted, completely fascinated. But in this book, that never happened. I still don't much care about the Johnstown Flood. McCullough's description of the flood itself starts out captivating, but then it turns into almost a laundry list recording. I'm not sure what most of the flood survivors' stories added, except for being stories from flood survivors. I was more than disappointed by McCullough's short and facile remarks on the history significance and effects of the flood.

> by 1889. With the valley crowding up the way it was, the need for lumber and land was growing apace. As a result more and more timber was being stripped off the mountains and near hills, and in Johnstown the river channels were being narrowed to make room for new buildings and, in several places, to make it easier to put bridges across.

> nearly always someone said, “Well, this is the day the old dam is going to break.” It was becoming something of a local joke. Many years later Victor Heiser would recall, “The townspeople, like those who live in the shadow of Vesuvius, grew calloused to the possibility of danger.

> Henry Bessemer, a brilliant English chemist, had devised just such a process at about the time Kelly first arrived at the Cambria works, and, deservedly enough, got nearly all of the credit. The Bessemer converter used a blast of air directed through molten iron to oxidize, or burn off, most of the carbon impurities in the metal to make steel. Previous steelmaking techniques required weeks, even months. The Bessemer process could produce good-quality steel in less than one hour.

> SOUTH FORK DAM IS LIABLE TO BREAK: NOTIFY THE PEOPLE OF JOHNSTOWN TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST. It was signed simply “Operator.” At Johnstown the message was received at the telegraph office at the depot only a few minutes later. The freight agent, Frank Deckert, was told it had come in; he glanced at it, but he did not stop to read it. As he said later, he knew that “it was in regard to the dam; that there was some danger of it breaking.” But it created no alarm in his mind. He had heard such warnings before.

> Parke estimated that it took forty-five minutes for the entire lake to empty, but others said it took less, more in the neighborhood of thirty-six or thirty-seven minutes. In any case, later studies by civil engineers indicated that the water charged into the valley at a velocity and depth comparable to that of the Niagara River as it reaches Niagara Falls. Or to put it another way, the bursting of the South Fork dam was about like turning Niagara Falls into the valley for thirty-six minutes.

> In that part of the valley through which the flood had passed, the population on the afternoon of the 31st had been approximately 23,000 people, which means that the flood killed just about one person out of every ten.

> brought the newly organized American Red Cross in from Washington. Miss Clara Barton and her delegation of fifty doctors and nurses had arrived on the B & O early Wednesday morning. Clara was sixty-seven. She had been through the Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, and several nervous breakdowns. For a while she had tried running a women’s prison in Massachusetts. But since 1881, when, after a long campaign, she had succeeded in establishing an American branch of the International Red Cross, little else had been of real interest to her.

> “In fact, our information is positive, direct, and unimpeachable that at no time during the process of rebuilding the dam was ANY ENGINEER WHATEVER, young or old, good or bad, known or unknown, engaged or consulted as to the work,—a fact which will be hailed by engineers everywhere with great satisfaction, as relieving them as a body from a heavy burden of suspicion and reproach.” Moreover, contrary to some statements made in Pittsburgh since the disaster, they had found no evidence that the dam had ever been “inspected” periodically, occasionally, or even once, by anyone “who, by any stretch of charity, could be regarded as an expert.” … In other words, the job had been botched by amateurs. That they had been very rich and powerful amateurs was not considered relevant by the engineering journals, but so far as the newspapers were concerned that was to be the very heart of the matter. It was great wealth which now stood condemned, not technology.

> alluded to here was the failure to remove the fish guards, which, very quickly, had come to symbolize everything repellent about the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. “…To preserve game for some Pittsburgh swells the lives of fifteen thousand were sacrificed,” … The membership of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, according to its initial plans, was never to exceed one hundred sportsmen and their families. The membership fee was $800.

> Many thousand human lives— Butchered husbands, slaughtered wives, Mangled daughters, bleeding sons, Hosts of martyred little ones, (Worse than Herod’s awful crime) Sent to heaven before their time; Lovers burnt and sweethearts drowned, Darlings lost but never found! All the horrors that hell could wish, Such was the price that was paid for—fish!

> Not a nickel was ever collected through damage suits from the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club or from any of its members. The Nancy Little case dragged on for several years, with the clubmen claiming that the disaster had been a “visitation of providence.” The jury, it seems, agreed

> Because there were no longer discharge pipes at the base of the dam, the owners never at any time had any control over the level of the lake. If the water began to rise over a period of days or weeks to a point where it was becoming dangerously high, there was simply nothing that could be done about it. If, on the other hand, the pipes had still been there, as they were up until they were removed by Congressman Reilly

> just as the clubmen were willing to accept on faith the word of those charged with the job of rebuilding the dam, so too were most Johnstown people willing to assume that the clubmen were dutifully looking to their responsibilities. ( )
  breic | Feb 21, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
On May 31, 1879, Johnstown, PA, a mill town built in a level plain between the confluence of two rivers along the eastern foot of the Alleghenies, was devastated, after two-day of heavy rainfall, by a thirty-feet high wave resulting from a catastrophic failure of an earthen dam located 14 miles west of the town. Witnesses who observed this water juggernaut described its power when they wrote how it "snapped off trees like pipestems, or "crushed houses like eggshells" or pushed "locomotives "like so much chaff." Approximately 4 billion gallons of water comprising this tsunami was released when the dam was breached traveling the 14 miles emptying Conemaugh Lake completing its destructive path in 65 minutes. The destruction of Johnstown took ten minutes resulting in the death of greater than 2200 people, many of their corpses intermingled with locomotives and passenger cars, homes, barns and silos with the debris blocking down river bridges. The damage was appraised at $17 million (value today would be $484 million).

Much of the blame for the failure of the dam was placed in the laps of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, touted at the time as "the most exclusive resort in America." Although a previous earthen dam was rehabilitated, it lacked a masonry core and discharge pipes to control the level of lakes. However, little or none of the numerous lawsuits which would have provided some justice for the citizens of Johnstown was ever found in favor of the citizenry.

This is the second of McCullough books that I have read and I have enjoyed both. While doing research at the Library of Congress, McCollough discovered photographs depicting the destruction of Johnstown; however, he found no books on the flood itself. Therefore, he decided to write this book which was published early in his career almost 60 years ago. He conducted extensive research on Johnstown and its geographic terrain, the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club and the business aristocracy included in its membership, the earthen dam, and the flood's devastating power. I would have enjoyed college history much better if I had had a professor like David McCullough. ( )
1 vote John_Warner | Oct 30, 2020 |
Even in this, his first published book, McCullough exhibits his trademark style of gathering a wealth of information from contemporary sources, subsequent reflections and current reassessments, and then weaving it all together into a gripping narrative. There was a lot of engineering talk in the first third of the book, which I found sluggish going. But McCullough is a master at engaging the reader; once I got past the tricky technical bits about the construction and maintenance (or lack of it) of the South Fork dam, he had me totally hooked. You know that cliche about not being able to look away from a train wreck...that's what reading this was like for me. I could wish the photos and maps included in the book had been more sharply reproduced. Even with McCullough's fairly comprehensive descriptions of what was being represented, it was difficult to make out details. Most of them are available on-line, though, where they show to much better effect. The Johnstown Flood is a piece of history that just begs for a treatment like this. If only we could learn from what happens when disaster strikes... ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Apr 18, 2020 |
The first book published by famed historian David McCullough was this one, about the devastating Johnstown Flood of 1889 that destroyed most of the city and its industry and killed more than 2,200 people. As the book methodically explains, the region was drowned by days of heavy rain. The rain created significant flooding of the Little Conemaugh River and its tributaries. It also washed over the dam forming large lake higher up in the mountains about 5 miles north of Johnstown. The lake-water gushed down the narrow, curving river valley, carrying broken buildings, uprooted trees, train tracks and locomotives and cars, livestock, and people. And, of course, creating and plowing even more debris and victims ahead of it as it surged through East Conemaugh with its railroad yards, locomotive roundhouse, rolling stock, and two idling trains filled with passengers.

In a fashion and style he'd use in building each subsequent book, McCullough captures the times, the locations, the telling details, the names, genders, ages, and occupations of dozens and dozens of victims and survivors.He dissects the event, its features, its causes.

A very good book, but undermined somewhat by the inadequate maps and illustrations and poorly reproduced photos. (Maybe the reproduction was better in the initial hardcover edition.)
  weird_O | Mar 19, 2020 |
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The stunning story of one of America's great disasters, a preventable tragedy of Gilded Age America, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough. At the end of the nineteenth century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal. Graced by David McCullough's remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing, classic portrait of life in nineteenth-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. It also offers a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are necessarily behaving responsibly.

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