Friday, March 11, 2016

Isaac's Storm

by Erik Larson

The full title of this book is Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, which is quite a mouthful, but really sums up the whole thing in a nutshell. Isaac is Isaac Cline, one of the earliest meteorologists in the fledgling US Weather Bureau who was sent to Galveston TX as their expert weatherman. The time is 1900 when Galveston was trying to win the battle with Houston over which city would be THE elite place to dwell. A good chunk of this book is devoted to such struggles over making a name and a place and an impact, which is exactly what the US Weather Bureau was trying to do at the time, with men such as Cline who wanted to establish themselves as an elite forecasting group.

The first portion of the book details a history of Galveston, the weather bureau and advances in forecasting. Midway through you finally get to the hurricane that put a damper on all of it. Due to some unfortunate but prevalent beliefs in 1900's America, Galveston went from glory to devastation in a matter of hours. It is the assertion of Larson that many lives could have been spared but for some egotism, however the destruction of the city would have been the same.

This book is very typical of Larson's others, so if you like those this would be a good read for you.

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