A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes

A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes

by Eric Jay Dolin

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Overview

Washington Post • 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction in 2020

Finalist • Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction
Kirkus Reviews • Best Nonfiction Books of 2020
Library Journal • Best Science & Technology Books of 2020
Booklist • 10 Top Sci-Tech Books of 2020
New York Times Book Review • Editor's Choice

With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes.

Hurricanes menace North America from June through November every year, each as powerful as 10,000 nuclear bombs. These megastorms will likely become more intense as the planet continues to warm, yet we too often treat them as local disasters and TV spectacles, unaware of how far-ranging their impact can be. As best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin contends, we must look to our nation’s past if we hope to comprehend the consequences of the hurricanes of the future.

With A Furious Sky, Dolin has created a vivid, sprawling account of our encounters with hurricanes, from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus’s New World voyages to the destruction wrought in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. Weaving a story of shipwrecks and devastated cities, of heroism and folly, Dolin introduces a rich cast of unlikely heroes, such as Benito Vines, a nineteenth-century Jesuit priest whose innovative methods for predicting hurricanes saved countless lives, and puts us in the middle of the most devastating storms of the past, none worse than the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed at least 6,000 people, the highest toll of any natural disaster in American history.

Dolin draws on a vast array of sources as he melds American history, as it is usually told, with the history of hurricanes, showing how these tempests frequently helped determine the nation’s course. Hurricanes, it turns out, prevented Spain from expanding its holdings in North America beyond Florida in the late 1500s, and they also played a key role in shifting the tide of the American Revolution against the British in the final stages of the conflict. As he moves through the centuries, following the rise of the United States despite the chaos caused by hurricanes, Dolin traces the corresponding development of hurricane science, from important discoveries made by Benjamin Franklin to the breakthroughs spurred by the necessities of the World War II and the Cold War.

Yet after centuries of study and despite remarkable leaps in scientific knowledge and technological prowess, there are still limits on our ability to predict exactly when and where hurricanes will strike, and we remain terribly vulnerable to the greatest storms on earth. A Furious Sky is, ultimately, a story of a changing climate, and it forces us to reckon with the reality that as bad as the past has been, the future will probably be worse, unless we drastically reimagine our relationship with the planet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631495274
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 48,805
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Eric Jay Dolin is the best-selling author of Black Flags, Blue Waters and Leviathan. He and his family live in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Extracts (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian) xi

Author's Notes xiii

Introduction xv

Chapter 1 A New and Violent World 1

Chapter 2 The Law of Storms 25

Chapter 3 Seeing into the Future 48

Chapter 4 Obliterated 77

Chapter 5 Death and Destruction in the Sunshine State 107

Chapter 6 The Great Hurricane of 1938 155

Chapter 7 Into, Over, and Under the Maelstrom 179

Chapter 8 A Rogues' Gallery 224

Epilogue Stormy Weather Ahead 299

Tables of Costliest Hurricanes 307

Acknowledgments 311

Notes 313

Select Bibliography 371

Illustration Credits 375

Index 377

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