This is a very well-written, engaging look at a hurricane (yes, a hurricane) and the late 19th century attitudes on class, gender, and bureaucracy. This is Larson's best book & one of my favorites-I honestly couldn't put it down! The details of how the hurricane caused so much destruction are fascinating & Larson makes the story even more interesting by weaving in the story of Isaac and others in Galveston. In other words, Larson makes the hurricane personal via their stories & a map of the city that provides a visual of where the hurricane hit the island. Great, great, great book!
Very good book about the hurricane that put Galveston under water in the early 1900's. Larson is not a great writer (imho) but he has excellent story ideas, his research into little known factoids is very well done...this is a definite read for those who enjoy historical fiction.
For those who did not live within the path of Hurricane Katrina and whose lives continue on unscathed, that destructive storm may begin to fade into the fog of history. Isaacs Storm resurrects the story of another incredible hurricane that should not be forgotten the monstrous storm that destroyed Galveston in 1900. The book follows meteorologist Isaac Cline through the languid days before the storm, details the politicking that lead to misleading forecasts about the strength of the storm, and follows moment by terrifying moment the storms almost incredible ability to destroy buildings and to swallow thousands of lives.
One needs to be patient with this story. Much as an eerie calm along the Galveston beachfront presaged an historically powerful storm, the story begins slowly, following the career of Isaac Cline to Galveston, and building moment by slow moment into the hell that the city became as the preternaturally furious storm came ashore. Seemingly minor and insignificant details will all make sense as Erik Larson paints a gripping and graphic picture of houses imploding, families washed away, and a literal mountain of debris plowing through Galveston behind a storm surge so powerful it beggars belief.
There are moments of déjà vue here. The silence from a whole city after the storm, the utter destruction of entire neighborhoods, the morbid and massive cleanup of bodies, flotsam, and jetsam. Galveston never fully recovered; the city of Houston usurped Galvestons ascendency after the storm.
Prepare to immerse yourself in the gripping prose you experience in Larsons book, Isaacs Storm.
I really like Larson's writing style - adding a novelistic element to prose. This was a truly horrifying and compelling story about the September 1900 storm that all but leveled Galveston, TX.
Of course, it was also about a period of time and the men and science of that time. Meteorology was in its infancy, and the bureaucracy was bloated and full of distrust . . . ultimately creating a situation where warnings could've been given but weren't.
And the resulting fallout was . . . both personally and on city-wide scale cataclysmic.
Though from it people learned. Galveston was raised. A seawall was built, and though future hurricanes hit the city (As a Houston resident, I remember watching Alcia hit in 1983) and led to *some* destruction, it was never on the scale of 1900.
I simply could not put this book down. From the author of the Devil in the White City comes an historical novel about the turn of the century hurricane that hit Galveston and the people involved. Their egos and protection of turf in the weather bureau had a profound impact on the turn of events. Riveting!
Engrossing book about nature's fury and how it devastated Galveston in 1900. I want to say I enjoyed this book but that doesn't sound right saying that about such a huge disaster. I'll say instead that I found it fascinating and horrifying.
This is a fantastic book. I love it. Living in Florida and going through Hurricanes in a very strange experience. Great read!!
Galveston, Texas, awakened on September 8, 1900, on its way to becoming the most prosperous city in the nation, brimming with activity, commerce, and confidence. The following morning, it was a city decimated and humbled by nature, its businesses and homes unrecognizable, its hope swept away by what is still the deadliest weather disaster in American history.
At the turn of the century, Isaac Cline was the chief weatherman for Texas -- he was also the one man who could have saved Galveston. The morning the storm hit, he watched as huge ocean swells transfigured the usually calm seascape of the Gulf Coast of Texas, timing the arrival of each swell, noting its size and shape. What he had yet to realize was that he had stumbled upon the greatest storm ever to target America, one in which eight thousand men, women, and children were about to lose their lives -- a figure more than twice that of the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and the Great San Francisco Earthquake.
Peter P. (pwp7669) - , reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on
Helpful Score: 1
Set in Galveston Texas prior to and during the devastating (worse than Katrina) 1900 hurricane, Isaac's Storm tells the story of the early days of hurricane prediction by the United States Weather Bureau. Washington politics, an inadequate communications infrastructure, and the dedicated efforts by a remote weather observer in Galveston weren't good enough to prevent disaster on an enormous scale.
Isaac's Storm is as educational as a text book and as gripping as a murder mystery - a rare combination. I started it at about midnight, thinking I'd read a chapter or two before going to bed. Five hours later, I finished it without putting it down once.
Very interesting story of the meteorologist who was stationed in Galveston, TX during its seminal hurricane. Reads like a novel, typical of Larson's works. Even after Katrina, the stories of loss in Galveston are stunning.
Valli reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on
Helpful Score: 1
If you are fascinated by hurricanes, this book is a must-read. It provides personal accounts of the storm that hit Galveston on September 8, 1900 which almost makes you feel like you were there. The author also uses telegrams, letters, and reports from the Weather Service to explain exactly how this storm was not recognized to be the threat to life that it was. The miscalcualtions, arrogance, and tremendous ego's all combined to make this hurricane one of the most costly in lives and property ever. An extremely compelling book.
This is such a good historical novel by the exceptional writer Erik Larson that I loaned it out to a meteorologist and never got it back. Thank-fully, I got another copy thru my wish-list! A great disaster that could have been partially prevented had it not been for the idiocy and pride of the heads of the weather bureau at that time. A bureau in its infancy, just beginning to understand the possibilities of predicting weather.
Diane M. (taffyandme) reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on
I listened to this book while traveling, It is a good book that not only tells the story about the 1900 Galveston hurricane but gives glimpses of other things happening around the world. It does get graphic about the victims. It also does fact checking which I appreciated.
I found this book to be very interesting and worth my time.
Sept 8, 1900--The Hurricane that leveled Galveston Island hit. This is the story of U. S. Weather Bureau Meteorologist Isaac Cline and the monster hurricane that devastated Galveston. Historical accounts of the devastation, the before and aftermath are all included here. Fascinating and tragic. If you have an interest in weather, hurricanes, turn of the century Galveston--this book wil thrill you. The sheer magnitude of the force iof nature and the human element are quite suspenseful. Larson really brings history to life! Fascinating!
What a read! The hurricane of 1900 that devastated Galveston was an incredible event. That so many people were killed is appalling because much of the death was due to the failure of men to cooperate and focus on the disastrous storm that was approaching this seacoast city rather than bolstering their egos and building power bases.
I have found some of the historical reads I explore to be outstanding in many ways. Larson researches topics thoroughly and puts the reader right in the middle of what is occurring. With bodies floating by those who would rescue survivors, a dog lost because it is searching for a special person, and the bravery of a man who manages to keep his family together as they float in the waters. In addition, Larson's portrait of Isaac depicts a man with faults as well as of his own. I like that. In addition, Larson weaves attitudes of the time on and gender, combined with a bureaucracy laden with self-serving individuals.
This would have been a five star read except some of the background early in the novel became a bit tedious for me. I thought it should have been pruned. Nevertheless, I recommend this book highly because you can discover for yourself the power of wind and water from a hurricane.
Becca B. (bba) reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on
I read this book a long time ago, but I recall that it was very well written. And now with Katrina, Haiti, and the Japanese disasters in very recent memory this is a very pertinent book. It helps to explain, for one thing, why and how government response to a tragedy (and failure to prevent or save lives beforehand) can be so very inadequate. An informative book for our times.
Too much talking, believe it or not. Not enough happens for too too long. We were bored and didn't even bother waiting for the storm. If you like this type of book, The Children's Blizzard was much more interesting.
This was a wonderfully exciting book. I have read all of Larson's work and enjoyed each. As with all his books the mixing of history a personal story is well done. I enjoy his attention to detail and his clear writing style. If you ever wanted it image what it would be like to experience a hurricane, this could do that for you.
Wow the detail and vivid descriptions of the storm and the people and experiences. It just chills you to the core to realize how little they knew about the weather back in 1900, but they thought they understood it. This is a wonderfully written book about the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900.
I could not put this book down! The author did a great job weaving together the stories of the people, the fledgling science of meteorology, and the newly minted National Weather Service. I got bogged down a little in some of the general details about hurricanes, but still found that information interesting. I read the last chapters in one sitting...riveted to my seat as Larson described what happened just before, during, and after the monster hurricane of 1900. I am even more grateful that I live today and have satellites that can at least watch for those storms. The Weather Service in 1900 put that hurricane in Florida--not the Gulf!
believe that Erik Larson can take any topic and make it interesting and entertaining. That's exactly what he's done with "Isaac's Storm".
On September 8, 1900 Galveston was the site of the worst natural disaster in American history. A hurricane that seemed to come out of nowhere destroyed most of the town and took more then 6000 lives. The storm surge swept the town and destroyed everything in it's path.
The political aspect of this story was fascinating. Willis Moore was the head of the Weather Bureau and ruled it with a iron hand. He believed that his department was a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Because of this the Weather Bureau had to have a spotless record. This lead to cover-ups and catastrophe.
Interesting account of the storm. It seems others dispute the author's conclusions about Cline's actions before the storm, but you will still get a feeling for the terror of the event. The book would have benefited immensely by the addition of photos (which Larson references in the Notes at the end) and a greater detailed map of the city before and after the storm. He mentions many people and it would have been helpful to pinpoint their homes. Also he talks about some Galveston landmarks but doesn't go into details, which even searching the Internet were not forthcoming.
Like all of Erik Larson's books, this one is thoroughly researched, facts are presented without bias, and he tells a great story. Larson makes the events of the legendary Galveston storm come to life as we endure the fury of the storm itself with the victims, house by house and street by street. He also gives us a look back at the misinformation and ignorance of the day when politics interfered with science. Isaac's Storm is an enjoyable read and a caution to us now to avoid the mistakes of the past. While he never discusses recent storms, I found myself comparing the mistakes of 1900, when so little was known about hurricanes, to mistakes made in preparing for and recovering from recent devastating storms, even though we now know so much.
Galveston, Texas September 8,1900: very hard to read story as the author diligently researched the facts about the deadliest storm in history. At first, there was lots of weather bureau facts and preamble to the storm that I found myself scanning. When the storm hit and I read about the 6000 poor souls who perished and how some were able to survive, the terror was indescribable.
Don't read this book before you go to sleep because... well you just won't! I was up all night thinking about it.
Liked this a lot, but actually didn't consider it Larson's top of the line. I think the subject matter simply wasn't as gripping. But the research is flawless, the personalities are enlivened - it was a really good read.
Very dry meteorological chronical of a hurricane that devastated Galveston at the turn of the century. Brought back pictures of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and how powerful a little bit of rain and wind can be.
This is one of the most well-written books I've ever listened to on audio. It was fantastic! Anyone who has ever been to Galveston, loved Galveston, or heard of the great hurricane that destroyed Galveston in 1900, needs to read this book. The story has been meticulously researched, which I'm realizing is a hallmark of Erik Larson books. This is only the second Larson book I've ever read, and I'm fast becoming his biggest fan. The other one I listened to was "Thunderstruck", which was equally satisfying. Now, I can't wait to listen to "The Devil in the White City" and "Dead Wake". Larson brings this story of the Galveston hurricane into such a close-up personal account, that I could feel the grief of the families over the loss of thousands of Galveston residents and the feeling of disbelief for Isaac Cline. The accounts of heroism, cowardice, and ballooned egos is riveting. I will never look at the giant Wal-Mart on Seawall Blvd. quite the same ever again. I highly recommend this book!