Black Cloud

  • by Eliot Kleinberg
  • Narrated by Lee Ann Howlett
  • 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The deadly hurricane of 1928 claimed 2500 lives, and the long-forgotten story of the casualties, as told in Black Cloud, continues to stir passion. Among the dead were 700 black Floridian men, women, and children who were buried in an unmarked West Palm Beach ditch during a racist recovery and rebuilding effort that conscripted the labor of blacks much like latter-day slaves. Palm Beach Post reporter Eliot Kleinberg has penned this gripping tale from dozens of interviews with survivors, diary entries, accounts from newspapers, government documents, and reports from the National Weather Service and the Red Cross. Immortalized in Zora Neale Hurston's classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, thousands of poor blacks had nowhere to run when the waters of Lake Okeechobee rose. No one spoke for them, no one stood up for them, and no one could save them. With heroic tales of survival and loss, this book finally gives the dead the dignity they deserve. The new, updated edition of this important book is published by the Florida Historical Society Press.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting, plays with emotions

What did you like best about this story?

The glimpse of weather prediction history and the stories of survival and courage.


Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed the stories of people who were able to pull together and survive. There were many lost as well, and so it pulls your heart back and forth between sadness and triumph. Great for folks that like regional history, weather, people stories or a mix of all of the above like myself. I received a copy of this audio book for my voluntary and honest opinion.

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- Sasquatch Survivor "Mcjiver"

Much more than account of a single hurricane

Eliot Kleinberg's Black Cloud is more than just an account of the 1928 hurricane. While that is the centre piece of the book, covering it in great detail, it is broader in scope than that - also looking at the wider history of hurricanes in Florida, their impact and how things have changed in response to them.

Klienberg puts the 1928 hurricane in a wider context of other hurricanes, Florida's attempts at the time to promote the state as a great place to live, and at the ingrained racism of the time. Kleinburg attempts to provide comparisons to hurricanes before and since 1928, in terms of deaths and infrastructure cost, noting the changes in how things are built, how costs and deaths are calculated, and even how storm strengths are calculated have completely changed. There is much guess work in this, as many of the storm measurement devices didn't hold up against the storm and top end wind speeds and rain values aren't exactly known. Similarly the exact details of how many dead aren't known and much is put to speculation based on varying accounts.

Klienburg has included many accounts of the storm, giving both depressing stories of loss, and hopeful stories of unexpected survival and reunion.

There is more focus on the aftermath, how the cleanup was done, who did what, how people were treated, than there is around the actual storm. The book also gives details on how changes because of this storm (such as changes to the levee system) have helped prevent such serious damage and death since.

The blurb made it sound like the focus of the book would be on the racism and Jim Crow type actions that made the hurricane worse for black people. That is certainly there in this book, and there are some discussions on it, but it's not as front and centre as I expected. Rather than being a bold out and out discussion on it (although there is some of that), it is weaved throughout the book, almost as a depressing additional commentary.


Narration by Lee Ann Howlett was good. Clear, easy to follow and well paced. She was engaging and worked well for what was a heavy subject.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
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- Kingsley

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-07-2017
  • Publisher: Eliot Kleinberg