The Storm of the Century
June 15, 2019 9:18 PM - by Al Roker - Subscribe

In this gripping narrative history, Al Roker from NBC’s Today and the Weather Channel vividly examines the deadliest natural disaster in American history—a haunting and inspiring tale of tragedy, heroism, and resilience that is full of lessons for today’s new age of extreme weather. On the afternoon of September 8, 1900, two-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and fifteen-foot waves slammed into Galveston, the booming port city on Texas’s Gulf Coast. By dawn the next day, the city that hours earlier had stood as a symbol of America’s growth and expansion was now gone. Shattered, grief-stricken survivors emerged to witness a level of destruction never before seen: Eight thousand corpses littered the streets and were buried under the massive wreckage. Rushing water had lifted buildings from their foundations, smashing them into pieces, while wind gusts had upended steel girders and trestles, driving them through house walls and into sidewalks. No race or class was spared its wrath. In less than twenty-four hours, a single storm had destroyed a major American metropolis—and awakened a nation to the terrifying power of nature.

Blending an unforgettable cast of characters, accessible weather science, and deep historical research into a sweeping and dramatic narrative, The Storm of the Century brings this legendary hurricane and its aftermath into fresh focus. No other natural disaster has ever matched the havoc caused by the awesome mix of winds, rain, and flooding that devastated Galveston and shocked a young, optimistic nation on the cusp of modernity. Exploring the impact of the tragedy on a rising country’s confidence—the trauma of the loss and the determination of the response—Al Roker illuminates the United States’s character at the dawn of the “American Century,” while also underlining the fact that no matter how mighty they may become, all nations must respect the ferocious potential of our natural environment.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So Al Roker writes books. Books about historic weather disasters. He's got another out about the Jonestown flood which after reading this one, I will probably check out. It's a good book! You can tell it's written by a newsman though, short punchy paragraphs, shorter chapters, lots of information distilled into efficient but colloquial language. It's not my preferred style but honestly it did make reading and absorbing the book easier on the bus. The Galveston Hurricane was *the* hurricane prior to Katrina. And frankly, as bad as Katrina was, the 10,000+ death toll in Galveston coupled with the complete leveling of the gilded age city was probably worse. And Galveston was and is an interesting place. Very mixed, racially and culturally even then, and Roker focuses on the history of the place and it's people prior, during and after the storm, introducing us to some real interesting people. The worst thing is the disaster could have been mitigated, if a terrible meteorologist in Washington had taken some Cuban Jesuit weather reports seriously. Galveston could have been warned and it wasn't due to one mans extreme hubris. It makes you very grateful for modern forecasting technology, that's for sure.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:26 PM on June 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

How does this compare to Erik Larsen's "Isaac's Storm"?
posted by oh yeah! at 6:06 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not so narrowly focused on Cline, while he is a part. More about history of Galveston and the diverse mix of people within the city.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:12 AM on June 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

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