A glimpse into a very different America, as a community and the nation deal with unimaginable death and destruction, and with the question of responsibility. There is extensive factual background on the dam and the flood, but McCullough also brings the tragedy home in human terms through the lives of the people of the valley. An interesting piece of history that has repercussions even in today's society.
A very well written book regarding the biggest natural disaster in American history. It could have been a fictional novel the way it is written and the immense tragedy that bestowed the people of Johnstown PA. It is certainly more interesting if you are familar with the area. A good non fiction read.
I read this book for one of my book clubs.I learned a lot about this town and the flood that happened.I still think about this book even though I read it a while ago.It was very informative and I couldn't put the book down.I never knew that much about the flood until I read this book.I highly recommend it.It also gives you history on the town also and the people who lived there.
Great book for any American history buff. The lives of the famous (Andrew Carnegie and Clara Barton) and not famous are richly related and will keep you wanting to discover their fate. The heroism is detailed and some myths debunked. It's a terrific read not only for the history lover but for anyone who enjoys a good novel.
The natural disasters in September 2005 hurricane season sadly enough make this book really topical and relevant. More than 2,000 people died in the 1889 Johnstown Flood because they had no warning that a dam had broken high up in the hills. But this famous disaster also was an occasion for shining displays of heroism by ordinary people. (Do not miss the account of the train's engineer trying to outrace the flood waters.) Also, the aftermath was the first opportunity for Clara Barton's newly organized Red Cross to prove its mettle. David McCullough's narrative is novelistic and riveting. If you've never read him before, this is an excellent book to start with. The first few chapters -- which discuss the earthen dam that was built by an exclusive social club of Pittsburgh millionaires -- are slower going, but try to stick with them. You'll want to remember this part, in later chapters, when the disaster's over and the stunned American public of 1889 begins to ask: "Why? Who's to blame?" As for the narrative of the flood itself, I guarantee you that, once the flood waters hit Johnstown, you will be rooting for all the townspeople you've come to care for, and you will not be able to put this book down.
I read this in the context of the recent Katrina disaster. It's interesting to contrast the expectations 100 years ago (no FEMA) and the rapidity with which ordinary citizens organized aid (within hours). An excellent historian -- well-researched, interspersed with the more credible personal accounts.