Texas Disasters: True Stories of Tragedy and Survival


It’s only human to be fascinated by disasters—and uplifted by reports of survival in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Mike Cox takes you back to Texas’s most catastrophic events, vividly re-creating the moments that changed the Lone Star State forever. The nineteen true stories in Texas Disasters are a chilling reminder to expect the unexpected and to respect the ...

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It’s only human to be fascinated by disasters—and uplifted by reports of survival in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Mike Cox takes you back to Texas’s most catastrophic events, vividly re-creating the moments that changed the Lone Star State forever. The nineteen true stories in Texas Disasters are a chilling reminder to expect the unexpected and to respect the powerful, often deadly forces of nature.

Experience the drama of:
A Spanish fleet stranded off the coast of South Padre Island in 1554
The 1867 Yellow Fever epidemic, so widespread some towns never recovered
The Galveston hurricane of 1900, the nation’s worst until Katrina in 2005
A1912 railroad boiler disaster, the worst in U.S. history
The SS Marine Sulphur Queen’s mysterious disappearance in 1963

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Texans always pitch in and help each other after a tragedy..."
—Mike Cox
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762736751
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Series: Disasters Series
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 770,437
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Cox is the author of a dozen books on Texas history and other subjects. He was the communications manager for the Texas Department of Transportation while Texas absorbed hundreds of thousands of evacuees during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Before that, he spent fifteen years with the Texas Department of Public Safety as a public information officer and was a newspaper reporter—all good research for writing about disasters and rescue efforts in Texas. 

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Read an Excerpt

Just before 6 p.m., a monstrous black cloud dropped from the skies on the south side of town and began its death march across the defenseless city. "The giant tornado was a massive black column extending from the low striated base of the inky clouds to the ground," a National Weather Service report later said. Huge pieces of debris thrown high in the air were clearly visible from miles away as the storm cut a swath of destruction through the city. Eyewitnesses described details of the storm differently, but they were unanimous on one point—it was an awesome, terrifying experience beyond anything they had encountered before.
The police officers at Memorial Stadium could attest to that. They watched in horror from outside the stadium press box as the cloud-containing at least five funnels-moved straight toward them. Knowing they could not outrun it, they bolted down the stadium stairs, huddled against a steel stairway railing, locked their arms together, and prayed. One of them later told a reporter that his only prayer was that his body could be identified. The roar of the storm was deafening, and the men were blasted by swirling debris.
But then the roar stopped. The mile-wide tornado moved on, looking for more victims, and the police officers were alive. The winds had torn the speakers from their radios, their handcuffs had been sucked out of their leather cases, and their service revolvers had been ripped open. Neuberth's watch had stopped at 6:05.

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Table of Contents

(1) Introduction (2) South Padre Island shipwreck, 1544 (3) "Yellow Jack": Yellow fever epidemic, 1867 (4) Indianola hurricanes, 1875 (5) Galveston hurricanes, 1900 (6) Goliad tornado, 1902 (7) Paris burning, 1877 (8) Boiler explosion on locomotive no. 704, 1912 (9) Central Texas flood, 1921 (10) Rocksprings tornado, 1927 (11) New London school explosion, 1937 (12) Houston hotel fire, 1943 (13) Texas City ship explosion, 1947 (14) Waco/San Angelo twisters, 1953 (15) Texas drought, 1950s (16) The blizzard of '56 (17) Disappearance of the Sulphur Queen, 1963 (18) Sanderson flood, 1965 (19) Wichita Falls tornado, 1979 (20) Aviation disasters, 1985-2003 (21) Afterword on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (22) Texas disasters timeline (23) Bibliography 

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    They say reporters write the first draft of history. Mike Cox, a seasoned journalist and public safety spokesperson, offers a lively and intensely human second draft on some of the worst disasters to strike Texas since Spanish colonization. This book is an excellent read for those who prefer to learn about history through the poignant stories of people who lived it, instead of through wordy, academic analysis. Cox¿s descriptions put you at the scene, often through the recollections of witnesses and survivors. The featured stories bring to life twenty famous Texas disasters. In many cases, their lessons led to new inventions and protocols that help keep us safer today. The appendix, meanwhile, offers an exhaustive reference list of tornados, hurricanes, steamboat explosions and other calamities to strike the Lone Star State. Hailing from Lamar County, I had to skip ahead and read about the 1916 Paris fire!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2007

    Not Just for Texas History Buffs

    Thoroughly researched, meticulously reported and concisely written, this book is well-worth reading. I would say that it is a joy to read except for the fact that we normally don¿t include the words ¿joy¿ and ¿disaster¿ in the same sentence. As the title suggests, this book chronicles a dozen-plus disasters that have taken place in Texas over the decades, many of them weather-related. By one measure, this book is a march through history, beginning with the loss of a three ships of a Spanish fleet laden with gold and silver off the coast of what is now Texas in 1554. Many of the incidents described here are somewhat obscure ¿ through certainly not lacking in drama or human tragedy. Others are more well-known, including the Galveston hurricane of 1900, which today remains the greatest single disaster in American history measured in terms of human lives lost. Many of the incidents are relegated to the history books, but others, such as the crash of jumbo jet Delta flight 191 at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in 1985 will be remembered by many readers. ¿Texas Disasters¿ will never rival ¿The Da Vinci Code¿ on the sales charts. But many readers will find it equally gripping. You don¿t have to be a Texas history buff to enjoy this book. All you have to do is hold in interest in ¿True Stories of Tragedy and Survival.¿ That¿s the book¿s subtitle. But if you are a Texas history buff this book is one that you not only should read, you should buy it and put it on your bookshelf as part of your personal library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2006

    Real-life Drama

    Captivating! After spending nearly 10 years in Texas emergency management, I mistakenly thought I had heard all the stories. Mike Cox has brought to light dramatic, real-life events that should hold the attention of anyone who knows that truth is more fascinating than fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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