The Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown Flood

by David McCullough
4.1 91

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The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

The stunning story of one of America’s great disasters, a preventable tragedy of Gilded Age America, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation’s burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal.

Graced by David McCullough’s remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing, classic portrait of life in nineteenth-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. It also offers a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are necessarily behaving responsibly.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416561224
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/31/2007
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 26,759
File size: 25 MB
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About the Author

David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit


West Tisbury, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

July 7, 1933

Place of Birth:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


B.A., Yale University, 1955

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The Johnstown Flood 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so well written that I almost felt that I was going through the flood myself. This is an incredible book! I live about a hundred miles from Johnstown but have never really read much about the flood. All I knew was 'hearsay'. But as I read this book, I came to realize that all the stories I heard about the Johnstown Flood were just that. Stories! This book told everything. I went through the 1972 Agnes Flood and it was nothing.....nothing like what these people went through. I can't imagine having to endure such a tragedy as this. They've made movies about the Titanic and Mt. St. Helens. Why not this? This book would make a great movie! Read this book! I guarantee you won't be able to put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across this book by accident about two months ago. I had never heard of David McCullough before. This book just sounded so interesting, and I like history, so I thought I'd give it a try. It really makes you feel as though you were there!!! Now that I have 'discovered' this author (thank goodness on my own, but now he is all over the news for 1776, and rightly so) I am certain I will be reading other books of his soon!
Guest More than 1 year ago
David McCullough shows that fact really is, at times, stranger than fiction. He obviously did a lot of research; there were many facts given to help set the record straight. His book reveals the people behind the events; you can see it happening before you. I appreciated reading the newspapers' headlines and inflated stories told, the maps and photos, along with the (lack of) justice served by the S.F. Hunting & Fishing Club. Lawyers would have a hay-day if the flood would happen in our time! I can't wait to travel to Johnstown to see the site of a long-ago nightmare and pay my respects to a town of survivors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a forner resident of PA, the Johnstown Flood is a part of my history, albeit one that aside from the basic facts I was unfamiliar with. McCullough dispelled myths and set the record straight, providing facts while also telling a captivating story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
McCullough knows how to engage the reader into story. I couldn't put this book down...which made for a couple sleepless nights!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
David McCullough brings history to life in another book. I thought at first that this was a new book by McCullough, until it referred to an event which happened over 120 years ago as happening almost 100 years ago. That explained how he was able to interview actual survivors in his research. The book displays his usual attention to detail and thorough research. I liked also that he didn't stop with the flood and its causes as other treatments of the subject that I have read have, but continued on to the aftermath of the event. What happened to those who survived--and how the courts dealt (or didn't) with those most responsible for the tragic flood. If you like history well-told, I recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked the book so much, go to Johnstown and visit, but don't just go into Johnstown itself to the museums, go to Sidman/St. Michaels and see the actual dam and the tourist sites in the area. Johnstown is an amazing place that has memorialized this tragedy. It is so good to know that McCullough helped to put them back on the map.
smg5775 4 months ago
Interesting book about the flood of 1889 in Johnstown and the surrounding area. It started slow as Mr. McCullough sets up the players and the places in the story. After the scene is set it got better as he describes the flood, the townspeople, and the aftermath to the town and the people in the path of the flood. This is one of his short books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read this book because I love everything the author writes and because this event happened fairly close to me and I know very little about it. As usual, the writing was so wonderful that you felt that you became part of this horrific tragedy. I never realized how enormous and devasting this flood was and how it could have most likely been prevented. A wonderful read for someone who likes history!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book should be required reading for anyone remotely interested in what happened to the dam that broke in Johnstown, PA. The author used the word 'immense' frequently and rightfully so. The amount of errors made during the building and (lack of) maintaining the dam were immense. The level of arrogance by the millionaires was immense. The unfortunate deaths due to the tragedy was immense. I went from not knowing much to learning so much regarding the flood; my level of knowledge has become immense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
xxzz More than 1 year ago
it was nice to read the book and fill in some blanks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
daveinfrederick More than 1 year ago
Knew next to nothing of the Johnstown flood...not even the year in which the great flood occurred. Having read some of Mr McCullough's other books, I decided to give this one a try, and am pleased that I did. The author's skills at research, and being able to tie together people and events made this a very interesting and informative read. Read this on my Nook. The maps shown were quite inadequate. Perhaps the maps in the physical book itself were readable. In any event, I found it helpful to look for and print a couple of maps from the Internet.
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I grew up near Johnstown so I was familiar with the area but not all the details and pictures. I enjoyed it.
enjoysagoodread More than 1 year ago
very interesting story about the lives of the flood victims and survivors
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