To my mind, well-written history often trumps fiction; the human imagination is no match for the baroque machinery of fate. Erik Larson writes compelling history. His talent lies in interweaving the general with the specific, building the characters and the scenes in which they move with equal meticulous skill. In this particular book, the history of meteorology and the science of storms are interwoven with the life story of Isaac Cline, assigned to be Galveston's chief meteorologist in 1889. Larson draws the portrait of a nascent National Weather Service beset by scandal, eager to prove its worth, and determined to avoid any hint of public panic. He traces the path of the storm across the Caribbean and shows how the hubris of the age--when nature was considered all but conquered--conspired with Cline's and the Weather Service's limitations to ensure that the storm hit Galveston on that fateful September day with very little warning. Larson unfolds the day itself, through the memories of Cline and other citizens, giving a vivid account of what it was like to survive the storm, and how it changed their lives, and Galveston, forever.
An account of the September 8, 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas, which killed more than six thousand people and is noted as the worst natural disaster in American history, is presented from the records of U.S. Weather Bureau meteorologist Isaac Cline. Reprint. 150,000 first printing.