“Galveston became Atlantis.”
If you enjoy non-fiction, you need to read Erik Larson’s books.
If you don’t enjoy non-fiction, you need to read Erik Larson’s books. 🙂
But for real internet, he is one author who can turn anyone into a non-fiction reader. Not only because he’s an excellent and engaging writer, but he writes about historical episodes that are completely fascinating, like my book club’s recent read: Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History.
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 completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history–and Isaac Cline found himself the victim of a devastating personal tragedy.
Using Cline’s own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man’s heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Riveting, powerful, and unbearably suspenseful, Isaac’s Storm is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets the great uncontrollable force of nature.
Knowing Texas as it is in 2014, it’s pretty mind-boggling to think at one point in history Galveston was battling Houston for first place in, well, anything. It truly put in perspective what a devastating storm can do to alter history.
“If there were a Pulitzer for bleak irony, however, it would go to the News for its Saturday-morning report on one of the most important local stories of the year—the Galveston count of the 1900 U.S. census, which the newspaper had first announced on Friday. The news was excellent: Over the last decade of the nineteenth century, the city’s population had increased by 29.93 percent, the highest growth rate of any southern city counted so far.”
The first half gives a lot of background. From the history of hurricanes to the cities involved, the background and history lay a solid foundation not only of the characters, but how weather forecasting was handled in different parts of the world. I wasn’t expecting that much background, but it gives a more broader understanding of how big this storm was and the rippling effects.
When the book began to dive into that fateful day of the hurricane, I couldn’t put the book down. It’s an intense tale to read, but I found I couldn’t pull myself away from the pages.
Dealing with a natural disaster is going to bring gut-wrenching facts (I did have to stop reading for a while after the part about the destruction of an orphanage and the lives lost, i.e. kids), but even with painful truths of the story, Larson is able to deliver without being overwhelming or too descriptive. It’s no easy task, but one he has mastered.
I couldn’t help but wonder why did people stay? If water is filling up and reaching my steps…y’all I’m out! This story (and people’s stubbornness, pride, fear, whatever), is another fascinating aspect of the book. It’s just sad to think that it caused many people their lives.
I think I like In the Garden of Beasts a bit more, but it’s a close one. Both are intriguing stories and written fantastically.
Anyone else a Larson fan? I’m so excited he has a new book coming out soon!! Are you a big non-fiction reader?