And the Deadliest Hurricane in History, a Time, Isaac's Storm: A Man

Written by: Erik Larson

And the Deadliest Hurricane in History, a Time, Isaac's Storm: A Man Book Cover
National Bestseller

September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history--and Isaac Cline found himself the victim of a devastating personal tragedy.

Using Cline's own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man's heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Riveting, powerful, and unbearably suspenseful, Isaac's Storm is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets the great uncontrollable force of nature.
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And the Deadliest Hurricane in History a Time Isaacs Storm A Man Reviews

Saturday's Child
For me, some parts of this story were fascinating while other parts were horrifying but it was the way in which Erik Larson told the story that made it a worthwhile read. It was an event that I knew nothing about until I read this book
Melinda
Strangely enough, I began reading "Isaac's Storm" and "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and how it changed America" at the same time. Spurred no doubt by the rather feeble hurricane Irene that hit the east coast in August 2011, I got interested in reading about hurricanes and how they came to be named and categorized. Irene was predicted to be this huge mega-storm, but the Galveston Hurricane really WAS the huge megastorm. In fact this year is the 111th anniversary of that disast Strangely enough, I began reading "Isaac's Storm" and "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and how it changed America" at the same time. Spurred no doubt by the rather feeble hurricane Irene that hit the east coast in August 2011, I got interested in reading about hurricanes and how they came to be named and categorized. Irene was predicted to be this huge mega-storm, but the Galveston Hurricane really WAS the huge megastorm. In fact this year is the 111th anniversary of that disastrous time in Galveston's history.

As I mentioned in my review of "Rising Tide", Isaac Cline features prominently in that book as the head of the regional forecasting center in New Orleans. It was fascinating to read more about Cline from his beginnings in Tennessee to his travels to Texas to become eventually the chief forecaster in Galveston, Texas.

This book, of course, is about the September 8, 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston. Weather forecasting at this time was a highly developing area, emerging from the highly superstitious and whimsical to a more reliable scientific approach. Cline was on the cusp of bringing weather forecasting into the scientific approach.

The Galveston Hurricane stands as the greatest natural disaster by number of deaths in US history -- 8,000 people were killed, perhaps as many as 12,000. Of those, 6,000 died in Galveston alone. These numbers are higher than COMBINING the casualties from the Johnstown Flood, the San Francisco Earthquake, the 1938 New England hurricane, and the Great Chicago fire. Using the modern Saffir-Simpson system, the Galveston Hurricane was a Category 4. By way of contrast, by the time Hurricane Irene hit the US Coast in August of 2011, it was only a category 1.

This book was worthwhile to read, and a wakeup call to remember the past and study history especially as a way to contrast with events todaoy. It is also a reminder that 111 years ago weather forecasting was a new and emerging field. It is now a more developed field, and weather forecasters still cannot totally predict what a hurricane will do, or what it will not do.
Anne
I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. A non-fiction look at the 1900 hurricane that wiped out Galveston, Texas promised to be interesting history, but I did not expect to be as swept up by it as I was (no pun intended).

The book starts slow with an absurdly detailed description of how a hurricane forms. Eric Larson is a fine writer, but he wasn't always able to convey the weather science in a clear way. His clumsy metaphors in these parts were often more distracting than helpful, like wh I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. A non-fiction look at the 1900 hurricane that wiped out Galveston, Texas promised to be interesting history, but I did not expect to be as swept up by it as I was (no pun intended).

The book starts slow with an absurdly detailed description of how a hurricane forms. Eric Larson is a fine writer, but he wasn't always able to convey the weather science in a clear way. His clumsy metaphors in these parts were often more distracting than helpful, like when he used fire as a metaphor to describe the behavior of rain.

Once I got past the introductory chapters, though, I found this book fascinating. His descriptions of the turn of the century physical setting and well as the attitude of the day are very vivid. Larson is a bit free about assigning emotional states of being to historical figures, but he's quite straightforward in his extensive notes section about what he took from personal accounts and what he extrapolated. There is also tons of great trivia in the book about weather. No, trust me, it really is interesting. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson kept a weather journal?

I found the descriptions of people's experiences in the hurricane to be as gripping as any crime novel. The anticipation comes not from whether doom will befall our characters, of course, but how it will befall them. The human element is what makes this book so engaging, and also what makes the aftermath of this hurricane so horrific. Larson's prolific research makes the people, place, and time knowable even a hundred plus years after that hurricane ravaged the Texas coast.

All and all, "Issac's Storm" is a remarkable slice of history.
His Excellency: George Washington :: The High Window :: Goldfish :: I Am Not Myself These Days :: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
Lisa B.
My Thoughts:

Outstanding!

This was the first book I read in 2013 and what a great way to start a new year of reading.
Mr. Larson has this amazing ability to take a historical event and turn it into a thriller. By the time the hurricane hits Galveston, my heart was pounding. Who will survive this weather phenomenon?

I liked the way the author alternated chapters between information about the time period and the track of the approaching storm. We get to learn about Isaac Cline on a personal basis, the My Thoughts:

Outstanding!

This was the first book I read in 2013 and what a great way to start a new year of reading.
Mr. Larson has this amazing ability to take a historical event and turn it into a thriller. By the time the hurricane hits Galveston, my heart was pounding. Who will survive this weather phenomenon?

I liked the way the author alternated chapters between information about the time period and the track of the approaching storm. We get to learn about Isaac Cline on a personal basis, the back ground of the weather service to this point in time and even some meteorological education. The last chapters that tell the story of the hurricanes arrival, how individuals and families fight for survival, and the devastating scene post hurricane were heart wrenching.

This is the third book I have read by Mr. Larson and it did not disappoint. This is one author that I always keep tabs on to see when his next book will appear.
Fred Forbes
I enjoyed this story of the Galveston Hurricane and only rated it a 3 as opposed to a 4 since I feel his other books - "White Devil...", "Thunderstruck" and "In the Garden of the Beasts" were of higher quality. Against the larger universe of this type of writing he has done his usual superior job in detailed and interesting fashion.
Diana
This was a re-read for me, it is the story of a meteorologist when the science was new and the devastation that came from not being able to predict how bad the hurricane of 1900 that hit Galveston, TX was actually going to be. I enjoyed reading it more this time since I was able to take a trip to Galveston this year, my first one, and see the memorials to what happened that day.
J.M.
Excellent and moving account of the terrible storm that struck Galveston, Texas, in 1900 and killed 6,000 people with little warning. A must-read for anyone interested in human interest or weather phenomenon stories.
Benjamin Thomas
I did not choose to read this book out of any great curiosity about hurricanes or about Galveston, Texas. I really had never heard of the 1900 storm that rampaged Galveston, killing over 6000 people, and I had certainly never heard of any of the major players or families that were impacted by the event. I chose it for the simple reason that it was written by Erik Larson, one of my favorite writers of nonfiction history.

And of course, by reading the book, I did become interested in hurricanes, an I did not choose to read this book out of any great curiosity about hurricanes or about Galveston, Texas. I really had never heard of the 1900 storm that rampaged Galveston, killing over 6000 people, and I had certainly never heard of any of the major players or families that were impacted by the event. I chose it for the simple reason that it was written by Erik Larson, one of my favorite writers of nonfiction history.

And of course, by reading the book, I did become interested in hurricanes, and I did become interested in Galveston Texas (and all the hopes and dreams of this city just before the storm hit), and I did become interested in the lives of all of those impacted by the storm. That, of course, is the mark of a successful author of history books and so my admiration for this author steadily grows.

The book itself covers a lot of information that is only on the periphery of the actual deadliest storm in history. The subtitle really captures it well for this is a book about Isaac Cline (“the man”) who was the US Weather Bureau’s resident meteorologist in Galveston and includes a nice rounding out of his biographical roots and his absolute love of all things weather. The “time” (the turning of the centuries) of 1900 is also biographically presented, especially the state of the science of weather observation and prediction but also the general attitudes of the populace when it comes to their work ethic in the face of impending doom. And of course, the storm (in the days before hurricanes were named, it is simply referred to today as the “1900 Galveston Hurricane) is a character itself. It was fun to read about its life cycle from its birth over the African highlands, east of Cameroon, growing in size and intensity as it passes by sea-going vessels, and on through its unexpected path to Galveston and onward to the US Midwest.

While not a lengthy book, Erik Larson manages to examine the impact of the storm from all angles, some dispassionately scientific but also showing the incredible acts of determined bravery and emotional upheaval during the immediate aftermath. It’s a powerful book that teaches while it enriches. I love the way Erik Larson chooses his topics to write about, shining a light on events that are both interesting and previously unheralded. I will certainly keep on pursuing books written by Mr. Larson.
Mary-Jo Laforet
Interesting book. Alternative title could be "the history of the national weather service."
Anna
Fascinating information about the history of the study and prediction of weather, specifically hurricanes, and an interesting snapshot of the time period.
Popsugar 2018: a book with a weather element in the title
K
The first 20% of the book was a little slow for me with the weather forecasting details, but once I got through that it was very interesting. It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of the loss of life and how they had no idea a storm was coming. I found the background of Galveston also interesting, in it’s competition with Houston to become a major port city.
Joe
Isaac's Storm has been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to pick it up and read it while housebound during Hurricane Harvey's torrential downpour. I read it in its entirety over the weekend which should be a testament to 1) How much free time I had, and 2) the power of Erik Larson's narrative.

The book concerns the terrifying 1900 hurricane that nearly wiped Galveston, Texas off the map and the local meteorologist from the U.S. Weather Bureau (Isaac Cline) w Isaac's Storm has been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to pick it up and read it while housebound during Hurricane Harvey's torrential downpour. I read it in its entirety over the weekend which should be a testament to 1) How much free time I had, and 2) the power of Erik Larson's narrative.

The book concerns the terrifying 1900 hurricane that nearly wiped Galveston, Texas off the map and the local meteorologist from the U.S. Weather Bureau (Isaac Cline) who failed to issue the proper warnings - to catastrophic results. Larson also charts the early history of the field of meteorology, a new and much-maligned field in the early 20th century (most people thought you couldn't and shouldn't try to predict the weather; that was God's domain).

Larson's writing style is never dry (pardon the pun) and he packs the narrative with fascinating weather-related anecdotes and ironic asides that foreshadow the carnage to come. However, the book really shines in its depiction of the titular event - cobbling together dozens of eyewitness testimonies, Larson chronicles the 1900 Galveston Hurricane with terrifying ferocity and horror.

At the time Galveston Island was considered the jewel of the Gulf and was well on its way of becoming the grandest city in Texas (it was locked in a bitter rivalry with nearby Houston). On the morning of September 8, 1900, the surf was high and the skies grey, but no one thought anything of it. No evacuation order was ever given. Hour later, the city was nearly completely obliterated by a monster hurricane that left between 6,000 and 10,000 people dead. Wind speeds were so high that shingles torn from roofs caused decapitations. The storm surge was so devastating that the shape of the harbor and shoreline was irrevocably transformed.

Larson paints the aftermath with some truly haunting images - drowned orphans found tied together with rope, a horse impaled with a cross timber, a submerged train filled with dead passengers, and the fiery glow of funeral pyres providing the only source of illumination along the stripped coastline.

It may seem silly, but while reading Isaac's Storm, I was struck by how far we've come in the field of meteorology. These people didn't have satellite images, real-time weather forecasts, or an adequate alert system. Full of turn-of-the-century hubris, they were completely at the mercy of nature. It was a sobering thought, especially as I checked the Weather App on my iPhone every time the wind-lashed rain from Hurricane Harvey slapped against the sides of my house.
Brenda
Erik Larson clearly has a gift for writing historical fiction. His painstaking research shows, not only in the pages of notes and sources listed at the end of the book, but in the incredible details included in his works. However, the most impressive part is his ability to take all the information he discovered in his research and turn it into a STORY which reads more like a novel than a history text. Judging by the amount of research he conducted, I'm quite certain he uncovered far more informa Erik Larson clearly has a gift for writing historical fiction. His painstaking research shows, not only in the pages of notes and sources listed at the end of the book, but in the incredible details included in his works. However, the most impressive part is his ability to take all the information he discovered in his research and turn it into a STORY which reads more like a novel than a history text. Judging by the amount of research he conducted, I'm quite certain he uncovered far more information about the storm and the circumstances surrounding it than he actually used it the final version of the book. Many decisions had to be made by Larson (and his editor) about what to include and how to present the information. Clearly, the right decisions were made.

The first portion of this book (about a quarter or a third?) does read a little more like historical text at times as Larson provides important background information about the development of the weather bureau and how Issac Cline came to be a part of it. However, this information is crucial to the the overall story and sets the stage well, helping the reader to understand just how and why a hurricane of such incredible magnitude managed to take the people of Galveston, TX by surprise.

I found this story both difficult to read and difficult to put down as I read of the likely experiences of many people as this monstrous hurricane overtook them. The stories of experiences during the storm itself were breathtaking and the information provided about the aftermath was nothing short of heartbreaking.

Definitely well worth reading!

Anna
Liked this one a lot. Doesn't beat "Devil in the White City" for my favorite Erik Larson novel, mainly because I'm not a big one for the science. While I appreciated a good overview of hurricanes and how they form, a good 1/3 of the book was a lot of science that I didn't understand. Again, this is just me - people who like and/or are good at understanding science may totally disagree.

The second 2/3 of the book, though, was Larson doing what I believe he does best - giving a voice to the Everyma Liked this one a lot. Doesn't beat "Devil in the White City" for my favorite Erik Larson novel, mainly because I'm not a big one for the science. While I appreciated a good overview of hurricanes and how they form, a good 1/3 of the book was a lot of science that I didn't understand. Again, this is just me - people who like and/or are good at understanding science may totally disagree.

The second 2/3 of the book, though, was Larson doing what I believe he does best - giving a voice to the Everyman. It's easy to write about famous historical figures like kings and queens or presidents, because generally there's a lot of information that's already out there as far as research. Besides the titular Isaac (who wrote one book about his experience in the hurricane, which may not have been 100% reliable), the people involved in this hurricane disaster are you and me. Ain't a lot out there to find when you're doing research on the ordinary people, let alone turn-of-the-century ordinary people.

But Larson manages to work research miracles. He not only finds compelling true stories, but makes every average townsperson a star in their own right, shares their experiences during this tragedy, and makes you care about them to boot. We don't have many Erik Larsons in the history/non-fiction field, and I think we need more.
Pat Murphy
I think this was another Goodreads recommendation. I will say that Larson has a nice ability to tell history in a more interesting way than your average writer or history book writing group. This book is about a set of characters and the events leading up to and through the 1900 Galveston hurricane which is on record as being the most devastating one on record in the US. The characters are obviously citizens of Galveston at the time and also Issac Cline, who ran the weather bureau there. It beco I think this was another Goodreads recommendation. I will say that Larson has a nice ability to tell history in a more interesting way than your average writer or history book writing group. This book is about a set of characters and the events leading up to and through the 1900 Galveston hurricane which is on record as being the most devastating one on record in the US. The characters are obviously citizens of Galveston at the time and also Issac Cline, who ran the weather bureau there. It becomes clear that weather prediction was almost non existent then. This is 1900, no planes, no satellites, communication was in its very early stages. So elsewhere in the US, Galveston was a disaster, and even the people in Houston did not know it. The book reads a little slow until it gets to the hurricane, where actual personal accounts are written about. The people in Galveston at the time, did not believe they were in any trouble until buildings started literally falling down, and the water rose up past the first floor, if you can imagine that. If you like history, and a look into the early 1900's, I think anyone would appreciate this book.
Alisha Bennett
Ah, the hubris of man......we never learn or in Isaac's case, we learn at the cost of much that we hold dear. By turns science for the layman and a condensed bio of Isaac this is an excellent example of Larson's work. Although I had a good inkling of the horrors that awaited I was driven onward in my fascination. Silently, I was willing Isaac to repent of his brazen over confidence and somehow alter the events (much as one rewatches a favorite movie somehow hoping a certain character will live t Ah, the hubris of man......we never learn or in Isaac's case, we learn at the cost of much that we hold dear. By turns science for the layman and a condensed bio of Isaac this is an excellent example of Larson's work. Although I had a good inkling of the horrors that awaited I was driven onward in my fascination. Silently, I was willing Isaac to repent of his brazen over confidence and somehow alter the events (much as one rewatches a favorite movie somehow hoping a certain character will live this time in this particular viewing). The tidbits of meteorology and history provided a welcome break from my overwhelming sense of dread. I would highly recommend reading a book about weather (Eric Sloane) as a side dish to help fill in the gaps of how weather unfolds. Enjoyable in a dooming sort of way, this was my first experience of Larson's ability to draw you in to the story until you are shouting at the characters to run or do this or try that. Visceral, there is a moral lesson here, one that man seems intent on forgetting. We do not control all. We do not know all. The moment we think we do, we can lose all. We cannot control the storm.
Christine
This is a non-fiction about the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 and killed 8,000+ people. It is also about how Meteorology and the National Weather Service came into existence. Before I start criticizing, let me begin by saying I would definitely recommend the book. It is fascinating stuff. I found it very interesting reading once you get past the first 50 pages.

I have spent many weekends in Galveston. I attended the Historical Homes Tour several years running and have been in some of the This is a non-fiction about the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 and killed 8,000+ people. It is also about how Meteorology and the National Weather Service came into existence. Before I start criticizing, let me begin by saying I would definitely recommend the book. It is fascinating stuff. I found it very interesting reading once you get past the first 50 pages.

I have spent many weekends in Galveston. I attended the Historical Homes Tour several years running and have been in some of the homes and places mentioned. I know the lighthouse on the Bolivar Penninsula. But even with my firsthand experience with the places mentioned, I found myself wishing there were pictures and maps to accompany the text. I know there are two very rudimentary maps in the beginning, but it seems odd that there are no pictures of before or after the storm, or of the people in the book including one which is specifically referenced in the text.

My other criticism is true for many of the non-fiction books I have read. It seems the author has so emersed himself in the details that the story is overwhelmed by them to the point of distraction.
Victoria
Although I've read other Larson books and enjoyed them immensely, I'd just never gotten around to reading Isaac's Storm. It's about a decade old and had been on my NOOK for quite some time. But it was just coincidence that it caught my eye last week before the 116th anniversary of the deadly hurricane. I hate hurricanes! But I certainly appreciate the advances of weather science and all the study that has made predictions more accurate in the 21st century. The realization that before the turn of Although I've read other Larson books and enjoyed them immensely, I'd just never gotten around to reading Isaac's Storm. It's about a decade old and had been on my NOOK for quite some time. But it was just coincidence that it caught my eye last week before the 116th anniversary of the deadly hurricane. I hate hurricanes! But I certainly appreciate the advances of weather science and all the study that has made predictions more accurate in the 21st century. The realization that before the turn of the 19th century to the 20th century, though, it was widely held as a firm fact that Galveston was not a target for hurricanes makes me super-grateful for Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University (who died in April of this year), Jim Cantore, and their ilk. I have already recommended this to my grandchildren as a someday read about Texas history. Erik Larson is a phenomenal researcher for his books which results in as truthful a version of history as you can get without being an eyewitness. Very readable.
Pat
Boy, Erik Larson does do his research before penning anything! This was such a good description of the storm that hit Galveston in the 1800 that I felt I was there.

As Winter Storm Jonas hits us head on today, I could not help comparing to myself how little they knew about weather as that storm approached compared to the accuracy of today's impending storms! WOW!

One of the best parts of the books is the interview with Erik at the end of this book where he details the work he does to ensure accur Boy, Erik Larson does do his research before penning anything! This was such a good description of the storm that hit Galveston in the 1800 that I felt I was there.

As Winter Storm Jonas hits us head on today, I could not help comparing to myself how little they knew about weather as that storm approached compared to the accuracy of today's impending storms! WOW!

One of the best parts of the books is the interview with Erik at the end of this book where he details the work he does to ensure accuracy in relating the events and the people involved! It was so interesting and so devastating. Apparently Galveston and Houston were in the running for the city with the most potential for the future in Texas UNTIL the storm destroyed the former and killed so many residents.

Good read as all of his books are! On to finishing Thunderstruck which I was reading simultaneously - lots of non fiction for me!!!!! But, also reading Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter for my daily much needed dose of fiction each day. I should be finishing both during Jonas.
Lacy Sanvictores
I wish 4 1/2 stars was a possibility, because I go back and forth on giving this book 4 & 5 stars. I'm hesitant to recommend it that highly to others though. Here's why:

This book is about the hurricane that hit Galveston Island in 1900. A good portion of this book explains how the Weather Bureau forecasted weather and hurricanes at the time. There are still quite a few first account experiences of those who "weathered" the storm, and those who didn't make it. I had a great-aunt who lived on I wish 4 1/2 stars was a possibility, because I go back and forth on giving this book 4 & 5 stars. I'm hesitant to recommend it that highly to others though. Here's why:

This book is about the hurricane that hit Galveston Island in 1900. A good portion of this book explains how the Weather Bureau forecasted weather and hurricanes at the time. There are still quite a few first account experiences of those who "weathered" the storm, and those who didn't make it. I had a great-aunt who lived on Galveston Island, and I would visit her with my grandmother on occasion. We visited a lot of the museums and landmarks on the island, and while it's not necessary to have that background to enjoy this book, I think I was more fascinated about the story because of my childhood experiences. In addition, I've always been curious about weather and forecasting. This non-fiction book was really well-written, but I think it needs to be a topic you're interested in.
Joshua Crowe
It was good. I'm finding out that Eric Larson is a great historical writer. I'm glad he included a "Notes" section at the end describing how he came about his information. It's fascinating to me. The storm killed around 4,500 people (confirmed) and some believe a more realistic number would be 8,000. His descriptions of the actual night of the storm read just like fiction. Hard to believe it all happened.

He intertwines other historical events like mile markers to give the reader a 'feel' of wha It was good. I'm finding out that Eric Larson is a great historical writer. I'm glad he included a "Notes" section at the end describing how he came about his information. It's fascinating to me. The storm killed around 4,500 people (confirmed) and some believe a more realistic number would be 8,000. His descriptions of the actual night of the storm read just like fiction. Hard to believe it all happened.

He intertwines other historical events like mile markers to give the reader a 'feel' of what else was happening at the time. It's cool because we all know of other big events and find out about some that we might not have known about. For instance, I didn't know that Galveston and Houston were competing for the spot of "major deep port" for the Southeast....and Galveston had the edge. It was after the devastating hurricane that one of the largest oil basins was discovered in Houston. That sealed the deal.
Char Freund
Said it before...wish it had a half star option. Would really give 3.5 .

Writing style needed help as it sometimes was choppy in how it added source info. But once I got into the story, I was immersed in wanting to find out what happened to people, buildings, and ships. I love historical books and was able to overlook style.

Of special interest to me:
P 343 Donation from Cambria Steel Company, Johnstown, PA. My third great grandfather worked there. His brother and wife along with four children die Said it before...wish it had a half star option. Would really give 3.5 .

Writing style needed help as it sometimes was choppy in how it added source info. But once I got into the story, I was immersed in wanting to find out what happened to people, buildings, and ships. I love historical books and was able to overlook style.

Of special interest to me:
P 343 Donation from Cambria Steel Company, Johnstown, PA. My third great grandfather worked there. His brother and wife along with four children died as their home was washed off of its foundation in the Johnstown Flood. I've read the news articles and death lists in the newspapers located in the Johnstown Flood Museum.
P 359 As a nurse: Clara Barton's response, "it's an unfortunate trait in human character to assail others in performance of humitarian acts"
P 40 Due to interest in science: Butterfly Theory, Chaos Theory
Karen
I really wanted to give this more stars but even 3.5 seemed like more of a stretch than I feel comfortable with.

I'm not a morbid person. I wasn't looking for gory details. But I wanted a human story and all the meteorology stuff really bogged it down. I live on the Texas gulf coast, 90 minutes from Galveston. Was on "the dirty side" of Hurricane Ike that hit Galveston. The last thing I care about is knowing all the meteorological minutia when a hurricane is headed my way. But tell me how people I really wanted to give this more stars but even 3.5 seemed like more of a stretch than I feel comfortable with.

I'm not a morbid person. I wasn't looking for gory details. But I wanted a human story and all the meteorology stuff really bogged it down. I live on the Texas gulf coast, 90 minutes from Galveston. Was on "the dirty side" of Hurricane Ike that hit Galveston. The last thing I care about is knowing all the meteorological minutia when a hurricane is headed my way. But tell me how people feel, what they plan to do and what roles there are to play, in our mutual humanity, and I'm all yours.

In short, I think I wanted drama. What I got was a short course in the arrogance of meteorology in 1900. 3 stars because it wasn't a total loss. The last half of the book is very engaging and hard to put down. You just have to slog through the first half without giving up!
Nancy
Isaac’s Storm has some great descriptions of what it feels like to be caught in a hurricane. The story pulls you in and keeps you turning those pages. Erik Larson included excellent maps that help you easily plot the course of the hurricane but no pictures. He describes a number of photos but must have either thought them unimportant or been unable to get the rights to them. If this book is ever reprinted, including photos would be a plus.

For a book with so much real death, the author jarringly Isaac’s Storm has some great descriptions of what it feels like to be caught in a hurricane. The story pulls you in and keeps you turning those pages. Erik Larson included excellent maps that help you easily plot the course of the hurricane but no pictures. He describes a number of photos but must have either thought them unimportant or been unable to get the rights to them. If this book is ever reprinted, including photos would be a plus.

For a book with so much real death, the author jarringly threw around phrases like “a twentieth–century audience would have shot Isaac dead” when describing a boring math filled lecture and “She did not kill him, but it is likely the thought crossed her mind” when describing the anger of a woman whose husband had not come home promptly as flood waters approached their house.
Jan C
Fascinating story of the storm that changed the weather bureau. Before the storm it was a tiny little bureau that didn't pay any attention to what other places said about the storm. When the Cubans reported on it. They said - oh, they're only Cubans, what do they know (or words to that effect).

Well, this was a bad storm. Galveston was practically wiped off the face of the earth. And the Weather Bureau became more serious about their job.

Isaac was the local head weather guy in Galveston. Actually Fascinating story of the storm that changed the weather bureau. Before the storm it was a tiny little bureau that didn't pay any attention to what other places said about the storm. When the Cubans reported on it. They said - oh, they're only Cubans, what do they know (or words to that effect).

Well, this was a bad storm. Galveston was practically wiped off the face of the earth. And the Weather Bureau became more serious about their job.

Isaac was the local head weather guy in Galveston. Actually, he had been banished to Galveston by the folks in D.C. for taking his job too seriously.

But the part that takes place during the storm is really most vivid. The story of people trying to get home in 6 ft of turgid water is not something to be forgotten.

And Galveston (and other places) took their sea wall much more seriously after that.
Joy D
Meticulously researched and compellingly told, this book is an account of the hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. As a child, I lived in Houston and took short beach vacations to Galveston. I had heard about this tragedy, so I was interested to find out the details of how a disaster of such magnitude had occurred with so little warning. The author has a way to bring what could easily be dry material to life in an engaging manner. I learned about the history of the weather service and mo Meticulously researched and compellingly told, this book is an account of the hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. As a child, I lived in Houston and took short beach vacations to Galveston. I had heard about this tragedy, so I was interested to find out the details of how a disaster of such magnitude had occurred with so little warning. The author has a way to bring what could easily be dry material to life in an engaging manner. I learned about the history of the weather service and more about how hurricanes develop. I recommend this book to those interested in meteorology, natural disasters, history or anyone who lives in areas prone to hurricanes. Even though hurricane tracking and warnings have improved dramatically since 1900, there is still much more to be learned, as we unfortunately found out with Hurricane Katrina.
Amanda
Erik Larson is such a fantastic writer. I mean who else can make me read pages and pages of annotated source notes? I always feel like sometimes there is a bit too much information here and there, but overall I really enjoyed this book. I had little knowledge of the Galveston hurricane before this, and it was interesting to read about. My main critique is probably that I didn't feel like Isaac was a very big player in the book at all, especially considering the title. I feel like maybe that's th Erik Larson is such a fantastic writer. I mean who else can make me read pages and pages of annotated source notes? I always feel like sometimes there is a bit too much information here and there, but overall I really enjoyed this book. I had little knowledge of the Galveston hurricane before this, and it was interesting to read about. My main critique is probably that I didn't feel like Isaac was a very big player in the book at all, especially considering the title. I feel like maybe that's the point, though? His role in warning people was built up over time, even by Isaac himself, and Larson's findings tell us that he was just as unaware as everyone else. This is probably a 3.5 rating, but I'm rounding up.
Laura Novobilsky
Liked it. 3.5 stars. For as much as I depend on my weather app (even when it's not totally accurate) and 24-hour media coverage of every blizzard, tropical storm or hurricane that is coming my way, it's hard to even imagine that a huge hurricane could basically go undetected. The fact that this huge storm was barrelling through the Gulf of Mexico, with only a couple ships (with no way of notifying those on shore) that had an inkling of its strength, is remarkable. As with many nonfiction books t Liked it. 3.5 stars. For as much as I depend on my weather app (even when it's not totally accurate) and 24-hour media coverage of every blizzard, tropical storm or hurricane that is coming my way, it's hard to even imagine that a huge hurricane could basically go undetected. The fact that this huge storm was barrelling through the Gulf of Mexico, with only a couple ships (with no way of notifying those on shore) that had an inkling of its strength, is remarkable. As with many nonfiction books that I read, I wish this one had at least a few pictures to add a visual account of the story, but google helped out in that regard.
Candace Chesler
Wow. Erik Larson does it again. Takes a slice of American history and brings it to life. This book has been on my list since I read Susan Wittig Albert's "Widow's Tears". Amazing to read of the egos involved in the early days of the Weather Bureau - and how that played a part in this tragedy. Larson walks us through each day of the hurricane as it moves its way across the Atlantic and directly into the streets of Galveston. When I think about our current technologies - it's numbing to think of w Wow. Erik Larson does it again. Takes a slice of American history and brings it to life. This book has been on my list since I read Susan Wittig Albert's "Widow's Tears". Amazing to read of the egos involved in the early days of the Weather Bureau - and how that played a part in this tragedy. Larson walks us through each day of the hurricane as it moves its way across the Atlantic and directly into the streets of Galveston. When I think about our current technologies - it's numbing to think of what information was available in 1900 - and how dependent the public was on a small group of men to interpret the weather.
Sonia
After reading "Dead Wake" this spring and watching a book talk by Erik Larson on BookTV this summer, my wife graciously ordered "Isaac's Storm" from the store. The book starts off slow, covering a history of weather forecasting and major storms and follows Issac's life story along with the track of the hurricane that Galveston never knew was coming. The second half of the book is riveting reading and Larson does a great job describing the storm and the devastating aftermath that killed thousands. A After reading "Dead Wake" this spring and watching a book talk by Erik Larson on BookTV this summer, my wife graciously ordered "Isaac's Storm" from the store. The book starts off slow, covering a history of weather forecasting and major storms and follows Issac's life story along with the track of the hurricane that Galveston never knew was coming. The second half of the book is riveting reading and Larson does a great job describing the storm and the devastating aftermath that killed thousands. A good book.
Candy
Having lived in Houston for 20 years, and making more than a few trips to Galveston over those years, I wish I head read this book then!

This book was chosen by my book club for this month, otherwise I might not have heard of it. I have read a few of Erik Larson's books and have enjoyed them. I like his writing style, and even though you know how the book will end, he's able to make you anxious while you're reading it.

The meteorologic parts are a little dry, but if barometric pressures and what Having lived in Houston for 20 years, and making more than a few trips to Galveston over those years, I wish I head read this book then!

This book was chosen by my book club for this month, otherwise I might not have heard of it. I have read a few of Erik Larson's books and have enjoyed them. I like his writing style, and even though you know how the book will end, he's able to make you anxious while you're reading it.

The meteorologic parts are a little dry, but if barometric pressures and what not is your thing, you'll like it even more.

A good, quick read.
Janet
Because I was attending a wedding in Galveston, I decided to read this book by Eric Larsen. Larsen has an uncanny way of writing history in a fascinating narrative. At the turn of the century, meteorology was in its infancy. Isaac Cline was the head meteorologist in Galveston. Larsen weaves the intrigues of the U. S. weather bureau, the intricacies of the way hurricanes are formed, with the actual horror stories of a monster storm that swept Galveston away and killed 6000 people, still the large Because I was attending a wedding in Galveston, I decided to read this book by Eric Larsen. Larsen has an uncanny way of writing history in a fascinating narrative. At the turn of the century, meteorology was in its infancy. Isaac Cline was the head meteorologist in Galveston. Larsen weaves the intrigues of the U. S. weather bureau, the intricacies of the way hurricanes are formed, with the actual horror stories of a monster storm that swept Galveston away and killed 6000 people, still the largest death toll in the U.S. Fascinating and riveting read.
Kait Smo
The author, a historical writer and not a scientist, can annoy people with meteorology backgrounds as he tries to write creatively about physical forces, oftentimes skewing their true cause. On the other hand, people with meteorology backgrounds might find this book great because it contains the history behind the names and terms we study in textbooks. This book dragged a few times, but over all it was well written and entertaining. Definitely worth a read, scientist or not, especially during hu The author, a historical writer and not a scientist, can annoy people with meteorology backgrounds as he tries to write creatively about physical forces, oftentimes skewing their true cause. On the other hand, people with meteorology backgrounds might find this book great because it contains the history behind the names and terms we study in textbooks. This book dragged a few times, but over all it was well written and entertaining. Definitely worth a read, scientist or not, especially during hurricane season.
Lynn Pribus
I really enjoyed this book, but didn't connect that this was the same author who did DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. Again, painstaking research so the reader is really on the scene. This time, there was a family to get to know and to worry about, so it seemed less like a text book.

This would certainly be one to read again when searching for a really good book, because I'm sure I've forgotten many of the details.
Crystal
May be one of the most thoroughly well-written books I've read! Larson goes beyond Galveston 1900 in detailing peoples lives, describing how storms form, and the unethical acts of the early weather bureau.
Could do without some of his snarky remarks about Isaac Cline, his brother Joseph and the victims of that devastating hurricane. Even so, this is quite a valuable, terrifying and heartbreaking read!
Dawn
3.5 stars. Excellent hurricane season listening! I love Larson and I always love an audiobook narrated by Edward Hermann. I might have had a little timing issue with this one - as I listened to an audiobook about the Johnstown Flood - also narrated by Edward Hermann - earlier in the summer and so the tales of victims being swept away in flood waters started to run together at a certain point. But that's me. I highly recommend this as a read and/or listen!
Angela
Erik Larson is so good at writing engaging and readable non-fiction. His books read like novels but are filled with so much historical research. Non-fiction books can often be dry, but this book about a hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas in September 1900 is anything but. Rather than relying simply on a straightforward description of the hurricane and its devastation, the personal stories scattered throughout really make this book come alive.
leslie hamod
This book took a real life tragedy and turned it into a page turner of great magnitude. Anyone watch the Prefect Storm? A few mistakes of ego and misinformation, failure to act and plans forfeit, led to the deaths of over 6000 people in the worst natural disaster to date. It was a relatively easy read, engrossing and unforgettable. This is without spoilers! I am still exceedingly shocked at the arrogance and willfully disregard for human life.
Amanda
It's crazy to think how many hurricanes have now surpassed this one in intensity, damages, and the lives that have been taken. An enjoyable read, and a tiny look into how the weather services we take for granted took shape to become what they are today. It's tragic that we still haven't really learned how to prepare and recover from such a large scale natural disaster with more grace than we have. But like the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Kaethe
Fascinating and informative. Larson tells the story well. Prior to reading this I knew nothing about the Galveston hurricane. Even when it's still too close in time and distance, to read about the devastation of New Orleans or Haiti, I can read about a century-old disaster with more equanimity.

The best thing about Larson is he manages to keep a gripping narrative going even as he's filling in all the history and science on a topic.
Kathleen
When we lived in Texas for a couple of years (in a town about halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi), we used to hear about a terrible hurricane that hit Galveston. This book tells the story of that storm in great and tragic detail. The only thing I didn't understand was why the people chopped holes in the floors of their houses as the storm waters began to rise. (To keep them from floating away like boats? I never could find anything that explained that.)
Nadine
This is my least favorite of Larson's books that I've read so far, but it was still worth reading. The first 1/3 or so of the book seems like unnecessary padding. But the second 2/3 is an enthralling, heartbreaking description of the deadliest hurricane ever to hit America. Larson raises legitimate questions about whether hubris and racism (against Cubans) may have worsened the death toll. It's a significant tragedy in America's history that I'm glad to know more about.
Charles
This is a hard book for me to rate. It is the story of an infant meteorologist and a massive hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas in 1900 during the infancy of the weather forecasting business. The hurricane aftermath chapters are a difficult read because of the description of the destruction and loss of life caused by the hurricane. The book is well written
Diogenes
I enjoy Larson's work very much. By around page 200, the back of my neck was prickling with the intensity of the storm. He has a gift for using dark humor and sarcasm too, which at many points had me laugh, despite the death and destruction soaked throughout the last hundred pages. Truly an incredible work of historical nonfiction.
Charly
Erik Larson has a way of taking historical events and weaving them into something that far more resembles a novel. This is the story of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. Wrapped within it is personal struggles with hubris, pride and stubbornness, as well as an interesting look at the evolving weather bureau at the turn of the century.
Holly Haze
Although I don't care for Larson's style of writing, I did enjoy this book more than the book about historical Chicago. Larson tends to get too detailed and technical, deviating from the plot, but the second half of this book which describes the storm is gripping. I, for one, had no idea this storm ever happened. This was a great lesson and set the tone for hurricane knowledge as we know it.
Rich
I liked this book but I became fixated on the title character (because he's in the title) and expected him more as a central figure or main character. The book is almost a series of vignettes of others' stories w Cline as the string. But I loved the history and the recount of the story's destruction was vivid and horrific and was like a punch in the gut.
Jess Dollar
This was a good book but as I was reading it I felt sure I was reading an early Larson book (I just checked and it is an early book -1999). I loved that it was clearly his style - a historical event told with and through the story of an historical person - but not as fully developed as later books. This book is choppier, shorter, and less polished than later ones but still enjoyable.
Kelli
I started reading this book when they first started reporting that a tropical storm called Katrina was brewing in the Atlantic. The book was so graphic that as Katrina bore down on New Orleans, i had to put the book down for a while. It's a dry book, but it puts you in the shoes of the people who were there.
Anna Schubert
Growing up in the Midwest, I somehow managed to miss what a big deal the Galveston Hurricane was. This book was fascinating for both its discussion of the actual hurricane itself and the background story of the amount of politics involved with weather prediction at the time. Occasionally the prose flirted with being florid, but generally it was solid and immersive.
Laurie Hale
Growing up near Atlanta, hurricanes were never part of my world. Now that I'm a resident of Houston, I've experienced two. I've also visited Galveston several times and heard many stories of the 1900 hurricane. Masterfully written, Isaac's Storm is a non fiction page turner. Larson weaves personal stories throughout in a way that personally invests the reader in the storm. A great read!
Julie
Fascinating, especially if you like weather. Recommend! Spending a lot of time in Galveston growing up made this one even more interesting. We would always tour the homes that survived the 1900 hurricane, and now that is more amazing....
Chelsea
Erik Larson's historical research is unparalleled. The book dragged for me at the beginning when he was discussing the history of meteorology and forecasting, but once he began to weave the stories of the people in Galveston, I was hooked.
Sarah
Very entertaining and easy read. Not as good as Devil in the White City, but still enjoyable. Would have been better if author did not jump around between the different family's stories, but continued on one person's path.
Barney Beins
Great book about a horrendous storm. From the sound of it, this 1900 hurricane in Galveston was much worse than Katrina in New Orleans (not to minimize the disaster of Katrina). As usual, Erik Larsen does a fabulous job.
Mary Ginn
Loved this! So well written. Another great saga of intellectual arrogance, politics, and narcissism which cement the foundation for disaster. Larson's painting of the impending storm and subsequent disaster is nothing short of terrifying.
Marie
Finally got to the only Erik Larson book I hadn't read yet - I'd put it off quite deliberately because I've spent some time in Galveston, and as I suspected, reading about the great hurricane was eerie and unsettling - made even more so by Larson's skillful handling of multiple narratives.
Robin Nenninger
Love this author! Can't believe I didn't read this sometime earlier. But in the usual Larson style, this is a true story. Well written. Sad story but well told. Makes me want to visit Galveston to see for myself.
Lauri
Really more like 3.5, but I'll round up. Another great book by Larsen, this time focused on the great Galveston hurricane of 1900, or Isaac's Storm. Truly a fascinating read, particularly dealing with the politics of weathermen at the time, and the hubris (not unlike now) of the age.
V
Thrillingly written, packed with information, and infused with a sense of purpose, I highly recommend this book. I picked it up on a whim, but am so much more informed about weather (particularly Texas weather!) than I was before.
Hana
I read this in one sitting and stayed up late into the night with the winds howling around me and the deadly waters rising everywhere. I almost skipped ahead to find out who lived and who died because I could hardly bear the suspense. Beats most fiction hands down. A great read!
Brette
Tell me some more about barometric pressure, and give mea list of storms and the ships they sunk. Or please don't. I liked the accounts when it finally got to Isaac's storm, but that's only the last 1/3 of the book. I was so happy when I was done. Thank god the last 1/4 if actual pages were notes.
Ruthanne Davis
This is the book that made me want to read every book that Eric Parson ever writes...and, so far, I have. Brilliant descriptive writing and one can only imagine the research that went into writing this book.
Suzie
The massive hurricane that hit Galveston TX in 1900 destroyed the city and left over 6000 people dead. Hurricanes were very much a mystery at this time and the city had no warnings of the coming storm. I couldn't put it down.
Megan Palmer
Once again Erik Larson is a master of narrative non-fiction. Even though there is plenty about the history of the barometer and the non-science of weather prediction in 1900, this is still a totally suspenseful page turner. Loved it.
Marcelle
Great book. The author describes and exciting and deadly storm with eye-witness accounts. But he also gives you a history of weather forcasting, from what sailors knew hundreds of years ago to our understanding today, which makes the book a bit more complete.
Melinda
This was an amazing true story of life in, through, and during the great hurricane of 1900 that decimated Galveston. True life accounts and observations by the author make this yet another Larson to read.
Bonnie Bennett
Interesting information about the hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. This was a devastating storm with over 6,000 deaths. Unfortunately, weather instruments and warning systems were crude at that time.
Joe Hayes
Great story about a cataclysmic event I didn't know much about. It was interesting to read an earlier book of Larson's. He has definitely grown as a writer over the years. This story was more technical an a little clunky at times compared to his more recent novels.
Cynda
Good popular weather history book. Accessible. Detailed.
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