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

por Erik Larson

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4,0941362,948 (4.01)313
History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML: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.
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» Ver também 313 menções

Inglês (133)  Alemão (1)  Italiano (1)  Todas as línguas (135)
Mostrando 1-5 de 135 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
In-depth study of 1900 hurricane, politics, US Weather Bureau, Galveston, tragedy ( )
  meltonmarty | Apr 16, 2024 |
An interesting and often disturbing account of the historically destructive hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas during 1900. I gave this a so-so rating, as I thought the narrative Larson created veered off into multiple directions, with too much focus on Isaac's personal life. Some chapters read more like a fictional account versus non-fiction. The inclusion of photos in the book would have been a welcome addition. ( )
  Ann_R | Mar 12, 2024 |
The story becomes so personal. There are images I can't get out of my head. So well written ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
Really good if the history of meteorology, evolution of government bureaucracy, and disaster stories are of interest. The latter did little for me, thus only an average book to me. ( )
  dlinnen | Feb 3, 2024 |
I was disappointed by this highly rated book.

Very repetitious. Too many people introduced for no good reason. Obviously, the author had a wealth of material and didn't know how to reduce it to an appropriate amount.

Ultimately, I learned nothing about weather prediction - partly because:
1) I didn't know which of the dizzying array of explanations were important; and
2) The explanations were poor. If you look at a book on weather (or even your local forecast), material is presented (and heavily supplemented) with graphics. The material applies directly to maps - why not use them? Instead, it's all text. So sad that the author knows nothing about visualization. There are two maps at the front of the book but they're not particularly helpful and, indeed, the author never refers to them in the text.

In the section on sources, the author mentions that he had access to a lot of photos that showed significant things. How many photos did he include in the book? Zero.

There were some good parts. I enjoyed discussion of the early history of the National Weather Service. And the post-storm cleanup and reaction was good. But the middle (even including the terror at the height of the storm) was just too much - boring and unfulfilling.

I also didn't care for the author's writing style. For example, he would use uncommon words with no explanation. He would occasionally end paragraphs with sentences that made no sense whatsoever or needed explanation. And sometimes he would say things that were simply contradictory.

Some examples (pages reference to paperback edition):

p 48 Larson writes that in 1627, Furtenbach fired a cannon straight in the air and positioned himself underneath hoping it would land elsewhere if Galileo's theories about rotation were correct. This story is absurd for so many reasons. Does the author lack the most basic understanding of physics? (In the rear, he gives a source of a book which has a poor rating on Amazon and reviews that say it should not be relied on.)

p 50 Larson recounts Isaac giving a "cruelly detailed explanation of the Coriolis effect" seemingly subjecting us to the same followed by "A twentieth-century audience would have shot Isaac dead." That's exactly what I feel like except I want to shoot Larson because ultimately, we readers get no better explanation. Were we not supposed to struggle with that prior incomprehensible paragraph?

Would I recommend this to a friend? No. First, there are better non-fiction books. There are better non-fiction disaster books. And there are better books about weather prediction debacles. This book simply isn't anywhere near the top. ( )
  donwon | Jan 22, 2024 |
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Erik Larsonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Henderson, LeonardDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Tran, DavidDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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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

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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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History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML: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.

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