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Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
Isaac's Storm A Man a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
Author: Erik Larson
September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that com...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780375708275
ISBN-10: 0375708278
Publication Date: 7/11/2000
Pages: 323
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 222 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
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!
reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
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.
reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 39 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
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.
nascargal avatar reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 352 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a really interesting book about the 1900 hurricane that killed 6000 people in Galveston TX.
reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 275 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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!
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ilovebooksanddogs avatar reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 356 more book reviews
This was not only a fascinating look at the history of hurricane forecasting but a well documented account of the deadly hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. I only wish he had added photos from the storm since I know they exist.
The more books I read by this author the more impressed I am. Well worth your time to read this one.
hardtack avatar reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 2552 more book reviews
I've wanted to read this book for a long time and finally got around to it, and I wasn't disappointed. It was a fascinating look at the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. What made it even more interesting was top level U.S. weather bureaucrats were partially responsible for the deaths and devastation and yet---after the storm---they lied and took credit for saving lives. Things haven't changed much, as we have top level U.S. bureaucrats doing the same today.

But I'd like to share with you some of the interesting trivia from the book. Weather experts at the time estimated the wind velocity of the hurricane hitting Galveston at 120 mph. Latter day scientists, reviewing the data, estimated there were gusts of 200 mph. During the storm the winds were so powerful, a "...board measuring four feet by six inches pierced..." a ship's hull. Not impressed? Well the ship's hull consisted of 1 inch thick iron plates.

The storm surge from the hurricane was 15 feet high and pushed debris for miles through Galveston and across the prairie. To understand why the storm surge created such devastation you need to know that "...a single cubic yard of water weights about fifteen hundred pounds. A wave fifty feet long and ten feet wide has a static weight of over eighty thousand pounds. Moving at thirty miles an hour, it generates forward momentum of over two million pounds..." This is why much of Galveston simply didn't exist after the hurricane.

I also found it interesting that donations of clothing to the Red Cross to help the victims of the hurricane were mostly thrown away, as they were either useless or shoddy. I'm reminded of stories of recent U.S. hurricanes where people from across the U.S. donate all kinds of clothing and most of it just sits in huge piles and rots. Because it is not what the survivors need. At least someone back in 1900 had some understanding of what the Galveston survivors needed, as one ship which arrived to help carried one hundred thousand gallons of water. When Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, scores of tractor-trailer loads of water were not allow to enter the area because they weren't FEMA authorized. Another good example of "I'm from the Government. I'm here to help you."

Today, with the oceans in a warming trend, it pays to understand what this hurricane did, as many of us will be experiencing the same. I had the experience of riding out a typhoon in the South China Sea in the early 1970s, while on a LST. Not something I'd want to do again. But two days later we pulled into Hong Kong and saw just how powerful the storm was. I saw huge freighters sitting on shore hundreds of feet from the water, and one small island had a freighter sitting on a hill. Its hull was cracked, with part of the ship of either side of the hill.

I live in Florida, miles from the coast, but I still have one or two weeks of water and canned or dry food in my pantry. When a storm comes I don't have to fight traffic to buy the supplies I need, only to find empty shelves. More people need to do this.

Finally, here is one last bit of Galveston trivia. In 1900, before the storm hit, the city had 500 saloons. Well, at least the people who lived there had their priorities right. :-)
eadieburke avatar reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 1610 more book reviews
This is the story of the 1900 hurricane that hit the island of Galveston, Texas on September 8th. Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the US Weather Bureau, failed to predict the immensity of the storm as the storm made a sudden turn towards Galveston after hitting Florida. The book is well-written and researched using telegrams, letters, reports and testimony of survivors. We learn about the making of the storm, the wrath of the storm which killed 6,000 people and the cleanup aftermath. It still remains the greatest natural disaster in American history. It is a powerful and gripping account which brings the hurricane to life for the reader. If you love history with a mixture of science, then you will enjoy this book.
reviewed Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History on + 1436 more book reviews
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.