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In 1900, Isaac Monroe Cline was in charge of the Galveston station of the US Weather Bureau. He was a knowledgeable, seasoned weatherman who considered himself a scientist. When he heard the deep thudding of waves on Galveston's beach in the early morning of September 8, however, Cline refused to be alarmed. The city had been hit by bad weather before. But by the time this storm had moved across Galveston, at least 6,000 - probably closer to 10,000 - people were dead, and Cline would never look at hurricanes the same way again.
Based on a wealth of primary sources, Erik Larson's unforgettable work will haunt you long after the final sentence. Narrator Richard M. Davidson infuses each chapter with added intensity.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Norman B. Bernstein on 09-28-15
A highly detailed account of a catastrophic storm
As I wrote in my review of Erik Larsen's newer book, 'Dead Wake', Author Larsen recounts an historic event by embellishing the recounting with a plethora of detail, which, at times, can seem overwhelming.
In this particular exercise, the story of this historic turn-of-the-century storm at Galveston, Texas, uses a literary ruse of sorts. By wrapping the central narrative around a meteorologist, the author attempts to gather the diverse facts and events into a personal context.
In my opinion, the ruse fails, to a degree, since the meteorologist in question was certainly not a major figure in the events; the star of the book would more rightfully belong to the storm itself, or perhaps more properly, to the naivete of the municipality of Galveston in failing to prepare for what should have been seen as an inevitable event.
In Larsen's usual style, the tale is told with excruciating detail. Ordinarily, good historical nonfiction uses detail to flesh out a narrative, but my own feeling was that it had become excessive, in this book.
Still, for those interested in what the enormous power of a hurricane can do to a coastal community, the tale is a sobering reminder and warning of the consequences of indifference to the extremes of nature.
46 of 50 people found this review helpful
By Matthew on 09-26-15
Hmm, I wish I'd picked the abridged version!
I've always gone for the unabridged version of books. In part because I feel I'm getting more bang for my buck, but mainly because I love non-fiction and historical books that I can learn something from. So, I want as much as the author will give. I made a critical mistake with this book however. I'd pondered back and forth between the two and almost picked the abridged simply because Edward Herrmann narrated it and I didn't really like Richard Davidson on the sample.
I wish I'd followed my gut; not because of Davidson however. His narration grew on me after a few chapters. It's because there's simply way too much filler rhetoric in this version that detracts from the relevant parts of the story. There were times where I said to myself; "would you get to the point already". That's usually the time where I turn off the iPod and return the book for a credit. However, this book came and went in waves. There were those times of lost interest, but they were immediately followed by something interesting that would cause me to stick with it. The book has some very good information about the storm, the history of the weather service and the science behind how and why these storms originate. This is why I give the story four stars, but the overall only two.
I like to listen to my books more then once, but I don't think I could endure this version again. Therefore I would recommend you obtain the abridged version if you want to learn about this devastating storm.
59 of 66 people found this review helpful