Posts tagged ‘Erik Larson’


I just completed reading Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson published in 1999. This was my second reading of this impressive and informative work on the great hurricane which devastated Galveston in 1900.

I wanted to revisit this book during hurricane season. Looking back, it would have been more enriching read done the year Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi coast or Sandy the New Jersey coast and surrounding area. More on Sandy and my Seaside Heights connection in an upcoming post.

This book will give you an appreciation of the current state of storm tracking and weather forecasting. I recommend you read it to compare today’s weather service with that of the late 1800’s when storms appeared from nowhere unannounced with prediction dependent on inflated egos and politics. Larson does an excellent job delving into the competition between the American weather bureau stationed in Cuba and the Cuban forecasters; how they were at odds on the future of the storm passing Cuba. The Cubans speculated that the storm would head into the Gulf of Mexico and impact Galveston and the Americans that it would veer north along the Atlantic coast discounting the accumulated experience of the Cubans. The competition between the two groups was such that the Cubans were forbidden to communicate their forecasts by telegram the Washington. At the same time, the Americans were forbidden to use the word hurricane in a forecast unless it was a certainty and Washington granted permission. The result of this egocentric approach was a storm of monumental proportions taking Galveston by surprise and claiming more than 6000 lives.

The title of the book is referring to the fact that the name of the head of the Galveston weather bureau was Isaac Cline. In addition to an observer to the storm he was also a victim losing his house and pregnant wife. Larson does an excellent job of following Cline and other Galveston residents through the horror and devastation. He also goes into great detail on the formation and development of a hurricane.

I am a huge fan of Erik Larson’s work, especially this gripping tale of death and destruction in Galveston in 1900.

October 28, 2014 at 3:22 am 1 comment


I just completed reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  He is a superb writer of creative nonfiction.  His books are fact made to read as novels resulting in a page-turner of history.

This work covers the rise of Nazi Germany with Hitler and his henchmen gaining control of the government.  The events are viewed through the eyes of William E. Dodd, in 1933, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Germany stationed in Berlin.

The story is a chilling recounting of the slow increase in terror and insanity of the Nazis toward the German population and especially the Jews.  Reflected is how the horror slowly escalates until it is impossible to halt progress towards world conflict.

December 19, 2013 at 12:49 am Leave a comment


Erik Larson

While the horror of Hurricane Sandy is still in our minds, I had a brother-in-law lose his home; I want to suggest an interesting read about a hurricane that was far more destructive. It may have not caused as much property damage, but the loss of life was unbelievable.

The subject of this book is a hurricane that occurred on September 8, 1900 and still remains the most deadly natural disaster experienced by this country.

Isaac Cline was the weatherman working in Galveston, Texas for the U.S. Weather Bureau, a relatively new organization. On the island of Cuba, members of the same organization were stationed, along with local weathermen. They knew a storm was coming from reports by ships in the Atlantic. The Cubans said the storm would enter the Gulf of Mexico. The Americans said that no hurricane had ever entered the Gulf, to their knowledge; the storm would make a 90º turn on journey up the eastern United States. Cline received no warning, and by the time he suspected a storm was about to impact Galveston, it was too late. The book states that over 6000 people lost their lives to this storm. A recent article in our local paper reviewing past hurricanes puts the death toll at between 8000 and12000.

For those who are interested with what life was like before we had technology to predict weather that we have now, I suggest you read this book.

November 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm Leave a comment


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