Posts tagged ‘Isaac’s Storm’


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


One of my favorite nonfiction authors is Erik Larson and I’d like to share some of his work with you.
I have read three of his books, Isaac’s Storm, Thunderstruck and The Devil In The White City and found them to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Isaac’s Storm deals with the hurricane of 1900 which devastated Galveston, Texas. This occurred before hurricanes were given names and resulted in the worst natural disaster this country has ever experienced with over 6000 lives lost. Isaac was Isaac Cline, the Galveston weatherman when the profession was in its infancy. Larson deftly describes the drama of the approaching storm and the bewilderment it causes until reaction comes too late.
Thunderstruck takes place in the early 1900’s. In this book Larson parallels the experiments and development of wireless communication championed by Guglielmo Marconi with a murderer, Harry Crippen. Marconi’s invention results in Crippen’s discovery and capture while he sails from Europe to America. The history Larson relates and his expert telling of the story results in a fantastic read.
The turn of the century sets the scene for The Devil In The White City. The focus year is 1893. The Devil is Dr. H. H. Holmes, one of the first serial killers. The White City is the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Larson follows the building of the fair and the many trials which must be overcome to accomplish its opening. Intermingled with the construction of the fair are the many crimes of Dr. Holmes and how he uses the fair to lure his victims, mostly young women, to his hotel of horror.
Erik Larson’s work of nonfiction offers the excitement of fiction while covering historical events.

September 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment


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