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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the…
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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History (urspr publ 1999; utgåvan 2000)

av Erik Larson (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4,0261332,958 (4.01)312
History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.
That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.
In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.
In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.
Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.
… (mer)
Medlem:LilyAnnika
Titel:Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
Författare:Erik Larson (Författare)
Info:Vintage (2000), Edition: 1, 323 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History av Erik Larson (1999)

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» Se även 312 omnämnanden

engelska (130)  tyska (1)  italienska (1)  Alla språk (132)
Visa 1-5 av 132 (nästa | visa alla)
Really good if the history of meteorology, evolution of government bureaucracy, and disaster stories are of interest. The latter did little for me, thus only an average book to me. ( )
  dlinnen | Feb 3, 2024 |
I was disappointed by this highly rated book.

Very repetitious. Too many people introduced for no good reason. Obviously, the author had a wealth of material and didn't know how to reduce it to an appropriate amount.

Ultimately, I learned nothing about weather prediction - partly because:
1) I didn't know which of the dizzying array of explanations were important; and
2) The explanations were poor. If you look at a book on weather (or even your local forecast), material is presented (and heavily supplemented) with graphics. The material applies directly to maps - why not use them? Instead, it's all text. So sad that the author knows nothing about visualization. There are two maps at the front of the book but they're not particularly helpful and, indeed, the author never refers to them in the text.

In the section on sources, the author mentions that he had access to a lot of photos that showed significant things. How many photos did he include in the book? Zero.

There were some good parts. I enjoyed discussion of the early history of the National Weather Service. And the post-storm cleanup and reaction was good. But the middle (even including the terror at the height of the storm) was just too much - boring and unfulfilling.

I also didn't care for the author's writing style. For example, he would use uncommon words with no explanation. He would occasionally end paragraphs with sentences that made no sense whatsoever or needed explanation. And sometimes he would say things that were simply contradictory.

Some examples (pages reference to paperback edition):

p 48 Larson writes that in 1627, Furtenbach fired a cannon straight in the air and positioned himself underneath hoping it would land elsewhere if Galileo's theories about rotation were correct. This story is absurd for so many reasons. Does the author lack the most basic understanding of physics? (In the rear, he gives a source of a book which has a poor rating on Amazon and reviews that say it should not be relied on.)

p 50 Larson recounts Isaac giving a "cruelly detailed explanation of the Coriolis effect" seemingly subjecting us to the same followed by "A twentieth-century audience would have shot Isaac dead." That's exactly what I feel like except I want to shoot Larson because ultimately, we readers get no better explanation. Were we not supposed to struggle with that prior incomprehensible paragraph?

Would I recommend this to a friend? No. First, there are better non-fiction books. There are better non-fiction disaster books. And there are better books about weather prediction debacles. This book simply isn't anywhere near the top. ( )
  donwon | Jan 22, 2024 |
Starts off very, very slow. So slow, I almost stopped reading it. But then picks up about 60% through. Not his best work and I am a huge fan. I was going to rate it 2 stars but as I said, it picked up to earn a 3-star rating. ( )
  BenM2023 | Nov 22, 2023 |
Month of May 2022: Local History

The first half of the book is interesting if you like learning all about how hurricanes form and where they come from. Not me! But, the author drops in bits and pieces of Isaac Clines life, so makes it worth reading through. The last half of the book is riveting! It follows families through their survival, or deaths.

In 1900, Galveston, the same today, is a long, narrow island, but it’s highest point was 8.7 feet above sea level on Broadway. Its average altitude was only half that at around 5 feet. So, with each one foot increase in tide, the city would lose a thousand feet in beach. (p. 12)

Today, not only has Galveston built a 17‘ tall by 27’ wide granite wall three miles long, but the city itself was filled and raised to nearly the height of the wall, sloping it downward to eight feet above sea level on the north end to allow any water that went over the top of the wall to drain into the bay on the north side. Over 2,000 buildings and houses, even a cathedral (using upwards of 500 jacks or more), had to be lifted to allow sand to be pumped in underneath them. It took seven years to complete after the 1900 Galveston storm and was first tested in 1915 when another storm just as bad hit the island again. But this time, there were only eight deaths.
https://uh.edu/engines/epi865.htm

Isaac Cline lived at 1125 Avenue Q, three blocks from the beach in downtown Galveston and had the largest and considered one of the most solid homes built around. Originally from Monroe County, Tennessee, he arrived in Galveston in 1891 to open and operate the first U.S Weather Bureau in Texas.

They knew a tropical storm was coming. They were living in an era when they were just learning about predicting severe weather. But, politics got in the way. Even back then, they had to quit using words like “tornado”, “hurricane” or “cyclone” because it instilled fear and panic in people. This tropical storm had just gone through Cuba and was gaining strength. But, headquarters, Willis Moore, specifically, made it clear, Cline was not to issue storm warnings on his own. The U.S. Weather Bureau were the only ones who could issue warnings, using those key words.

Although, this era of meteorologists were just beginning to learn about these storms, Isaac still had a false belief that nothing too serious could ever happen to Galveston.

U.S. Weather Service was in constant conflict and competition with the meteorologists at Belen College Observatory in Cuba. The U.S. even banned weather transmissions to Cuba during the height of hurricane season. When this storm went over Cuba they reported to U.S. and to their people that they were center of the low pressure of a “hurricane”. Cubans used the color of the sky, along with the wind, waves, temperature and barometric pressure to determine how severe the storms would be. The U.S. laughed and still believed it was just a large tropical storm and would follow through Key West and head up the east coast. But, an abnormal high pressure zone kept the storm heading west, with southern Florida barely getting touched, and into the Gulf, barreling straight for Texas. Even the day before the storm hit the Galveston coast, the U.S. believed it a nonessential shoot-off tropical storm from the one that went over Cuba and which had supposedly dissipated. But, Issac Cline was concerned because of the unusual high tides and large waves…but no winds. The barometer pressure had even gone up, not down as it normally would with an approaching storm. So, there was that confusion!

Even as the storm approached shore and was bringing in flood waters by 7:00am that morning, children thought it exciting and were out playing in the first 2-1/2 feet of flood waters with homemade rafts. By 1:15pm, the wind was 35 mph and water was at least waist deep at the Santa Fe Union depot where a train had just arrived from across Galveston Bay to drop off a load of people. A train from Beaumont made it to Bolivar Island lighthouse early on the morning as the hurricane was hitting land, where 9 of its 83 passengers, including the train master left the train and took refuge inside the lighthouse with 200 other people. The train appeared to be moving through the storm, then disappeared. Everyone who stayed on the train died. Locked up inside the lighthouse with waves breaking higher than the light, they could hear soldiers sounding off their cannons for help just across the bay.

The eye of the storm ended up passing just west of Galveston, which brought the worst devastation to Galveston, being on the east side of the eye of the hurricane…stronger winds and higher surge. It was estimated that winds were over 150 mph and tidal surge was well over 15 feet, recorded by Isaac Cline, and most likely up to 30 feet.

At a Dr. Young’s home, which his home did not survive, his upstairs was 32 feet high off the ground, and it flooded all the way to the top of the steps. But, it doesn’t let us know how high his land was above sea level. But, he only lived two blocks from Isaac Cline, and closer to the beach.

As wind shifted at 5:40pm, coming from the east now, the worse side of the hurricane was passing over Galveston, bringing even higher winds over 150 mph and the Gulf waters.

Judson Palmer, wife Mae, son Lee were standing on edge of their bathtub on the second story when their house shifted and settled into deeper water. It was torn apart. Judson was the only one to surface.

Cline was standing at his front door, at 25th and Q, watching the water torrent flow east to west, while his younger brother Joseph tried to encourage him and others to leave the house, when suddenly the water rose 4 feet in 4 seconds. That was at 6:30pm. His yard was 5.2 feet above sea level. The water was 10 feet above ground, which means the tide was 15.2 feet deep and rising. The house was filled with refugees, 50 people, including his pregnant wife who was in bed and his three children, taking cover and water was suddenly waist deep. They all moved to the second story. Suddenly the house began shifting, and as it began falling over, Joseph grabbed the hands of two of Isaac’s children and busted through a window that was now the top of the house. Isaac, and miraculously his youngest daughter, age 6, his sweetheart, and 18 others made it out of the completely flooded house.

St. Mary’s Orphanage was located where present-day Walmart is today, near the center of Galveston Island. There were 10 sisters who ran the orphanage, which had, at the time, 93 orphans. They tied eight children with ropes around their waist to each of them, leaving three of the oldest untied. Those three were the only ones to survive. (p. 212-13)

It was interesting to learn how weather was being predicted in the 1900’s. There were men stationed at weather stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. They would record their readings (barometric pressures, temperatures, types of clouds, wind, etc..) throughout the day and send them by Western Union to the main office in Washington. It took on average, about an hour for messages to get back and forth from Galveston to Washington. There they created weather maps daily that were sent back out to every weather station and newspapers that had a vested interest in weather reports.

Keep your eyes on the barometer, which will fall when a storm is approaching. A normal barometer reading is 30 inches. The lowest recorded to-date was 26.22, in the eye of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. The 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston was “officially” recorded by the U.S. Weather Station at 28.48. But, at the train station, someone noted the pressure at 27.50.

Four months later, on January 10, 1901, oil was struck right here in Beaumont, Texas, at the Spindletop. This event would literally rock the world and change the landscape of Southeast Texas. Galveston may have been one of the top three growing cities and ports in the U.S. before the hurricane, but the railroads were safer from Houston. So, Houston profited from the great oil boom and moved ahead of Galveston as a major port of transportation. Galveston became just the beach getaway vacation site that it continues to be today.

Author used Isaac’s own memoir, “Storms, Floods and Sunshine” (1945) for his insights into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He poured through the records of the U.S. Weather Bureau archives and Clara Barton’s papers at the Library of Congress. And, of course, Galveston’s Rosenberg Library holds all the hundreds of personal letters, newspaper articles, notes and over 4,000 photographs on the hurricane from survivors.
———————————————
TO-DO IN GALVESTON

A few houses and buildings listed below that, although survived the 1900 hurricane and were raised, the people were not mentioned in the book. They are at least worth a drive-by tour. Galveston does offer organized historic homes tours, at certain times of the year, inside a few of these homes, and other homes built just after the flood, but they are never any fun for us. We like doing our own thing at our own pace.

Isadore Lovenberg House in the East End Historic District, built in 1877

Note: Not a part of the historic tour homes, but was up for sale in 2021.

https://www.chron.com/homes/article/galveston-home-zillow-for-sale-hurricane-his...

Allan & Lulu Cameron home, built in 1891
1126 Church Street


https://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/article/Galveston-s-home-tour-features-hou...

August Roemer Tenant House, built in 1873
1416 Sealy Street


- Roemer sold the one-and-one-half-story house in 1879 to Julius and Elizabeth Ruhl, who were most likely living here in 1900.

https://www.papercitymag.com/home-design/galveston-historic-home-tour-preservati...

James and Amelia Byrnes House, built c. 1881
2113 Ball Street

Note: Byrnes is photo below Lucas Terrace photo.

https://www.houstonpress.com/news/things-to-do-45th-annual-galveston-historic-ho...

Conrad and Henrike Lenz House, built 1887
1807 Avenue L

Note: Scroll to photo of inside of home at 1807 Avenue L in description.


https://365thingsinhouston.com/2019/04/26/45th-annual-galveston-historic-homes-t... ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
I dunno. I felt like there was something missing about this book, but I can't really put my finger on what it was. ( )
  lyrrael | Aug 3, 2023 |
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Erik Larsonprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Henderson, LeonardFormgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Tran, DavidOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Washington, D.C.

Sept. 9, 1900

To: Manager, Western Union

Houston, Texas

Do you hear anything about Galveston?

Willis L. Moore,

Chief, U.S. Weather Bureau

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For Chris, Kristen, Lauren, and Erin.
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Throughout the night of Friday, September 7, 1900, Isaac Monroe Cline found himself waking up to a persistent state of something gone wrong.
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Wikipedia på engelska (3)

History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.
That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.
In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.
In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.
Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.

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