Saturday, May 14, 2011
Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
Book: Isaac's Storm
Author: Erik Larson
Recommended To: Non-Fiction Fans, Storm Chasers, People Who Drink Hurricanes.
This is the non-fiction account of the 1900 hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas which destroyed virtually everything on the island, and stunted Galveston's growth as a major American port forever.
The book revolves around Isaac Cline, the meteorologist who failed to predict the biggest hurricane ever and the surrounding stories of family that suffered through the storm. Larson does an excellent job of choosing a few stories, some happy, some extremely tragic and crafting the whole experience of the storm. The book starts out with Isaac's career journey to Galveston and the scandals surrounding the National Weather Bureau.
The scandals were surprisingly entertaining and Larson wrote about then with a dry biting wit that made the National Weather Service of a century ago nearly comical. Unsurprisingly, the weather service 100 years ago sucked. They had just figured out how to use a barometer and they made a lot of assumptions about how hurricanes traveled - without actually knowing much at all.
This book was very well done. It sounds totally boring - a book about a hurricane and meteorologist who can't predict anything - but Larson really did an excellent job crafting a compelling story. This is nearly as good as Devil in the White City perhaps even better because Larson didn't have to weave two completely incongruent stories together that just happened in the same city at the same time.
This book was a riveting B+. I really enjoyed it, even though it took me ages to complete because it was my "train book." If you liked Devil and have even a passing interest in hurricanes - you are going to love this book.