Feb. 28, 2011

My daily Regional Rail commute has been particularly entertaining over the last few weeks, thanks to my latest read, Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson.

Until I had heard about this book (most likely a few years ago during coverage of a destructive hurricane in the news), I never knew that the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history took place on Sept. 8, 1900, in Galveston, Tex., along the Gulf of Mexico. The 1900 Hurricane claimed approximately 8,000 lives and destroyed most of Galveston, a town that was a close economic rival of Houston in the late 19th century.

The book’s namesake, Isaac Cline, worked in the government-run Weather Bureau office in Galveston, and his bold prediction that no tropical storm could harm Galveston proved to be tragically wrong. Larson’s book provides vivid detail about Cline’s life, the storm’s approach, and its macabre aftermath, but also goes to great lengths to explain the fascinatingly boundless optimism (and tragic hubris) of America in 1900. Surprisingly, over a decade after its initial publication, an excellent site about the book still exists, too.

So, if you happen to be looking for a terrific new book to read, I strongly recommend Isaac’s Storm. On to a new book for my daily train ride!

[ No. 597 ]