Sunday, September 19, 2004

Great book I've been reading!

Have been reading a really wonderful book called, "Isaac's Storm". For anyone who loves history, as I do, you'll love this book. It's written from the perspective of those who lived through this storm (the hurricane of Galveston in which 8,000 people lost their lives), and goes back and forth between the perspective of Isaac (the meteorologist of all of Texas at the time, who also lived locally, three blocks from the beach) and others who confronted the storm (in Cuba, on the ocean as they sailed to and from America, etc.). One of the most fascinating aspects is how much "hubris" (a word used frequently by Larson to describe the phenomenal stupidity of those who should've known better) of the Americans running the meteorological service of the time. They poked fun at the Cuban meteorologists who said the cyclone which passed over Cuba, headed for Galveston, was in fact a hurricane. Americans said the Cubans were making a mountain out of molehill & kept them from broadcasting their fears to anyone else (to the point of asking telegraph operators not to transmit any warnings from the Cuban meteorology department)! Thus the full horror of the storm was on Galveston before anyone knew of it's existence.

I've not finished the book, yet, but have read most of it in the past twelve hours. I hope Erik Larson continues to publish more historical books because he is such a readable author. I read his most recent book, "Devil in the White City" about the construction of the World's Fair in Chicago, 1893, and the first urban serial killer who used the fair to acquire his victims. This, too, was a really interesting book, but could have had a better title. The title comes from a statement of the killer's in which he says, "I was born with the devil inside me".

No comments: