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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Issac's Storm

I love to read history books, however some can be hard to get into. This is not the case with this book! I read it in less than a week. It was very well written and gave a gripping account of a horrible storm. It really makes you realize how lucky we are today to have a...
I love to read history books, however some can be hard to get into. This is not the case with this book! I read it in less than a week. It was very well written and gave a gripping account of a horrible storm. It really makes you realize how lucky we are today to have advance hurricane warnings!

posted by SCarolina_Girl on February 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Fascinating!

I could hardly stop reading this book. It was touching and horrifying at the same time as Mr. Larson told the story of the deadly Galveston Hurricane. He is very good at telling a story from brief documented facts. I've enjoyed all of his books and would recommend any o...
I could hardly stop reading this book. It was touching and horrifying at the same time as Mr. Larson told the story of the deadly Galveston Hurricane. He is very good at telling a story from brief documented facts. I've enjoyed all of his books and would recommend any of them. I learn so much history while enjoying a good read.

posted by 407046 on September 2, 2013

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    If you are at all interested in weather events, this is excellent.

    This was very well written with a great deal of historical research presented in a very readable, non-dry narrative. The book chronicles events leading up to and including accounts of the hurricane of 1900 that wiped out Galveston. It is seen in large part via the chief meteorologist there at the time. This is not the usual type of book I would read. I expected to be bored by the meteorology information, and though there was some in the first of the book I didn't find enthralling, it was worth reading to understand the whole picture. Once the actual hurricane accounts started, I couldn't put the book down! The 1900 hurricane in Galveston was a tragedy that could have been mitigated greatly in terms of massive loss of lives had only the warning signs been investigated. There was arrogance on the part of the main meteorologist in Galveston, and in addition there were also in-house political issues among U.S. weather service leaders and personnel that stifled communication or collaboration. The accounts of the survivors who lived through the hurricane are horrifying but riveting.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2014

    Very interesting

    Very interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    Excellent

    The detail in this book is amazing and very interesting. I recommend it highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2012

    Mistystar

    ?

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Accessible history and science writing

    This book is about the hurricane that decimated Galveston, Texas in 1900. There's quite a bit of science in it, but it's pretty accessible. There's also quite a bit of history about Galveston of course, but also the Weather Bureau in its infancy and weather forecasting, also in its infancy at that time. The later chapters detailing the storm surge and the aftermath are particularly good (and harrowing). Very blunt, sort of just-the-facts writing, which suits that material perfectly. Some of the foreshadowing in the very early chapters felt heavy-handed to me so I was happy the author abandoned it as the story moved along. I also found it an interesting book to read in a post-Katrina world. It was published in 1999. Certainly there had been other awful hurricanes prior to 1999, but I found myself thinking how lucky we are to live in a world where weather forecasting is so much more reliable than it was in 1900, but then just as quickly thought even so, these are very scary and unpredictable forces at work that can do significant damage regardless of the warning we may have.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Don't underestimate mother nature!

    "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" is really a precautionary tale of hubris. Before Katrina, Andrew, and Frederic, was the worst and deadliest hurricane this nation has ever seen: the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. At least 6,000 people drowned or were lost (later estimates indicated the death tally actually was more toward 10,000). Among the casualties were members of Isaac Cline’s own immediate family. We can feel his horror and guilt as he is forced to step over his fellow Galvestonians, because he also believed no massive storm could ever devastate his beloved city, dubbed the New York of the Gulf. Erik Larsen’s use of Cline’s own letters, reports, telegrams, and hundreds of eye-witness testimonies show Cline’s own hubris and debunks facts that Cline was the quick thinking hero he believed himself to be after the Storm hit. The rivalry with his brother, Joseph, is quite telling.

    But to ignore the signs of the storm’s size and intensity by the fledgling National Weather Service was the ultimate sin of human arrogance, Cline’s especially. The NWS didn’t want to create fear, and the concerns of the Cuban meteorologists remained “a growing uneasiness” about the ominous signs in the Caribbean sky. They should have fretted since other parts of the United States experienced major oddities: Waco TX had been under siege by a grand locust plague and the Bering Glazier shrunk. There were no cries of “climate change,” only the mistakes of the government’s new Weather Bureau. Dismissive of the Cuban meteorologists, the NSW cut off all contact with them; because Washington, D.C. refused to believe that a major hurricane could cross the Gulf and hit the Island city of Galveston. Remember, these were the days that only Washington could declare a hurricane, not the local weatherman. The time in 1900 America was Golden. Progress and the discreet political climate downplaying the Clines’ sibling rivalry while emphasizing Galveston’s civic boosterism

    My heart lurched as Larson weaves personal stories into the account of this strong storm, especially when the good sisters tied the little ones from St. Mary’s Orphanage together with clothesline. I wanted to scream at the gathering crowd on the shoreline to get out as they watched thee ever changing sky and the rapid rise of water as the Gulf begins its drowning invasion. The scenes on the Pensacola took my breath away. I know the destruction of hurricanes; I have lived through many. Frederic, September 11, 1979 being the worst; I literally shut down when a tree cut my “Aunt” Mary Jane’s house in two and landing less than 3 feet from where I was lying. Perhaps, this is why Larsen’s detailed account of the hurricane’s formation bored me to tears. I know how and where they formed, since my first exposure to hurricanes was in my freshman year in Mobile, AL Spring Hill College. But his pace did keep me interested, yet his writing was completely dry at times. A 3.33 Star read.

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  • Posted November 18, 2011

    I couldn't put this book down!

    This is a really good read. Eric Larson has a way of turning what could be a dry text of historical events into a exciting page turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2008

    Isaac Cline's Isaac's Storm book

    'An absurd delusion,' is how Isaac Cline, a dedicated and highly trained first-generation employee of the new U.S. Weather Bureau, characterized the fear that any hurricane posed a serious danger to the burgeoning city of Galveston, Texas. Isaac Cline was an employee that loved weather and how it worked. Since his times were in the early 1900s, there wasnt an high-tech machines to detect when any kind of weather was coming towards the area. In this book, he describes how he faced the storm and how it felt to be there and witness everything. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about weather/nature and how it works. Isaac Cline did an amazing job on describing the storm bit by bit and going slow so the reader could understand everything that he ment. He also described everything scientificly so the reader would also learn something while reading his novel. The only disadvantage of the book is that it is very long and took me a long time to read. Isaac's Storm is a fascinating look at the physics and meteorology of hurricanes. His book was a suspenseful re-creation of the track of the 1900 Galveston storm, and an electrifying account of the day the storm released its unfathomable fury on Galveston. Most of all, it is an appreciation of the human face of the tragedy, as focused in the story of Isaac Cline, whose pride was the pride of his nation and his time, and whose education in the unpredictable power of nature is one that if we forget today we do so at our peril.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2002

    Stick With It!

    This book was on my required reading list for honors English. During Part 1, I didn't think I was going to be able to make it through the book. I was confused by some of the talk of meteorology, and bored by the history of it. I do understand, however, that that part may have been necessary to understand the feel of the time, and the advances of the field of meteorology, as well as how far it still had to come. I stuck with the book, though, and by the time the storm hit, I was hooked. I had to keep reading to find out what happened to each family described. It may start out boring you to tears, but stick with it. It turns out to be a gripping and moving novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2000

    GRIPPING TRUE STORY OF THE TERRORS OF HURRICANES

    Although not as riveting as The Perfect Storm, Cline and Larsen still tell a terror-filled true story of the horrors of a massive hurricane on people in low-lying coastal areas. Struck by one of nature's most massive forces, Galveston, Texas was almost obliterated in a time before modern technology allowed for preparation in the face of approaching hurricanes. It is compelling story of the lives of the major players in Galveston, at that time, and their struggle to survive in the face of one of the deadliest storms in history....tense and well told this book is good reading for sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2000

    Mirroring Its Subject, Story Builds Slowly Then Explodes

    On the cusp of 1900 while doctors Minor and Murray were working across the pond on the Oxford English Dictionary, in the recently completed novel Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, a tropical hurricane of immense proportions was hurtling unannounced toward Galveston, TX and its meteorologist, Isaac Cline. I¿ve had great luck so far with turn of the century historical non-fiction, this is my second novel after The P&tM. Like all great disaster epics the reader is introduced to a variety of people whose lives this will alter, and even snuff out. The beginning exposition moves slowly, describing the events of the day, as well as Isaac¿s childhood, eventual rise through the ranks of the nescient weather bureau, and ongoing rivalry with his brother. Interspersed with the background of the major players are pages detailing the birth, development, and murderous progress of the storm, humanizing it in a way that reminded me of Peter Benchley¿s malevolent sharks and squids. Erik Larson does a commendable job unraveling the politics which lead to the blatant disregard of the storm warnings in Cuba. Without this information relayed ahead, the hurricane slams into Galveston full force killing 8000+ citizens. The novel really takes off at this point, moving at a speed to match the flowing current, as the reader bounces back and forth between characters. Families are decimated, houses collapse, parents see their children slip away into the sea, refugees struggle through 12+ foot flow. Through all the devastation and terror the author keeps a menacingly placid tone, he does not sensationalize.. and it is this almost dispassionate view which lends a chilling aspect to the death that abounds; it is so frank and curt that it desensitizes. Once again man pays for his hubris with tragedy. Recommended.

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