American Disasters / Edition 1

American Disasters / Edition 1

by Steven Biel
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New York University Press
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American Disasters / Edition 1

Long after the dead have been buried, and lives and property rebuilt, the social and cultural impact of disasters lingers. Examining immediate and long term responses to such disasters as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger explosion, American Disasters explores what natural and man made catastrophes reveal about the societies in which they occur.

Ranging widely, essayists here examine the 1900 storm that ravaged Galveston, Texas, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Titanic sinking, the Northridge earthquake, the crash of Air Florida Flight 90, the 1977 Chicago El train crash, and many other devastating events. These catastrophes elicited vastly different responses, and thus raise a number of important questions. How, for example did African Americans, feminists, and labor activists respond to the Titanic disaster? Why did the El train crash take on such symbolic meaning for the citizens of Chicago? In what ways did the San Francisco earthquake reaffirm rather than challenge a predominant faith in progress?

Taken together, these essays explain how and why disasters are transformative, how people make sense of them, how they function as social dramas during which communities and the nation think aloud about themselves and their direction.

Contributors include Carl Smith, Duane A. Gill, Ann Larabee, J. Steven Picou, and Ted Steinberg.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814713464
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2001
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: On the Titanic Research and Recovery Expedition and the Production of Disasters1
1"A Tempestuous Spirit Called Hurri Cano": Hurricanes and Colonial Society in the British Greater Caribbean11
2"The Hungry Year": 1789 on the Northern Border of Revolutionary America39
3What Comes Down Must Go Up: Why Disasters Have Been Good for American Capitalism72
4Smoke and Mirrors: The San Francisco Earthquake and Seismic Denial103
5Faith and Doubt: The Imaginative Dimensions of the Great Chicago Fire129
6Distant Disasters, Local Fears: Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Revolution, and Passion in The Atlantic Monthly, 1880-84170
7"Nothing Ends Here": Managing the Challenger Disaster197
8"It Must Be Made Safe": Galveston, Texas, and the 1900 Storm223
9Chicago on the Brink: Media Trauma and the 1977 L-Train Crash247
10The Day the Water Died: The Exxon Valdez Disaster and Indigenous Culture277
11"Unknown and Unsung": Feminist, African American, and Radical Responses to the Titanic Disaster305
12"Piecing Together What History Has Broken to Bits": Air Florida Flight 90 and the PATCO Disaster339
13The Exxon Valdez and Alaska in the American Imagination382

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