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Storm Kings: The Untold History of America's First Tornado Chasers

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Storm Kings: The Untold History of America's First Tornado Chasers Cover

ISBN13: 9780307378521
ISBN10: 0307378527
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations

From the acclaimed author of Wicked River comes Storm Kings, a riveting tale of supercell tornadoes and the quirky, pioneering, weather-obsessed scientists whose discoveries created the science of modern meteorology.

 

While tornadoes have occasionally been spotted elsewhere, only the central plains of North America have the perfect conditions for their creation. For the early settlers the sight of a funnel cloud was an unearthly event. They called it the “Storm King,” and their descriptions bordered on the supernatural: it glowed green or red, it whistled or moaned or sang. In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin explores America’s fascination with and unique relationship to tornadoes. From Ben Franklin’s early experiments to the “great storm war” of the nineteenth century to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin re-creates with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America’s history, including the Tri-state Tornado of 1925 and the Peshtigo “fire tornado,” whose deadly path of destruction was left encased in glass.

 

Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists who changed a nation—including James Espy, America’s first meteorologist, and Colonel John Park Finley, who helped place a network of weather “spotters” across the country. Along the way, Sandlin details the little-known but fascinating history of the National Weather Service, paints a vivid picture of the early Midwest, and shows how successive generations came to understand, and finally coexist with, the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

Review:

"James Espy, the first meteorologist in America, thought of tornadoes as 'rapidly rising column of air' that operated according to the laws of steam power, pumping warm air into cold; his lifelong rival, William Redfield, maintained that the storms were 'gigantic whirlwind, spinning around a moving center like a top.' Though they were essentially espousing 'two halves of the same process,' they were never able to reconcile their differences and find common ground. Sandlin, however, deftly synthesizes and illuminates the duality of his title — both the tornado itself, which early settlers in America referred to as 'the Storm King'; and the individuals who made it their life's work to document, predict, and better understand those despots of the plains. Legendary storms roil throughout the text, from the funnel of fire — or as one eyewitness (whose eyeballs were consequently seared) described it, 'the finger of God' — that destroyed Peshtigo, Wis., in 1871, scorching over a million acres and killing 1,500 people, to the Tristate Tornado of 1925, which rampaged for 219 miles across parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. On ground level, Sandlin describes mankind's efforts to comprehend storms, from Ben Franklin's famous kite experiment to the F1 — 5 intensity rating system developed by Japanese immigrant Tetsuya Fujita. Sandlin makes talking about the weather much more than a conversational nicety — he makes it come brilliantly to life. 16 pages of b&w illus. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne and Miller Literary Associates." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations

From the acclaimed author of Wicked River comes Storm Kings, a riveting tale of supercell tornadoes and the quirky, pioneering, weather-obsessed scientists whose discoveries created the science of modern meteorology.

 

While tornadoes have occasionally been spotted elsewhere, only the central plains of North America have the perfect conditions for their creation. For the early settlers the sight of a funnel cloud was an unearthly event. They called it the “Storm King,” and their descriptions bordered on the supernatural: it glowed green or red, it whistled or moaned or sang. In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin explores America’s fascination with and unique relationship to tornadoes. From Ben Franklin’s early experiments to the “great storm war” of the nineteenth century to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin re-creates with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America’s history, including the Tri-state Tornado of 1925 and the Peshtigo “fire tornado,” whose deadly path of destruction was left encased in glass.

 

Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists who changed a nation—including James Espy, America’s first meteorologist, and Colonel John Park Finley, who helped place a network of weather “spotters” across the country. Along the way, Sandlin details the little-known but fascinating history of the National Weather Service, paints a vivid picture of the early Midwest, and shows how successive generations came to understand, and finally coexist with, the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

About the Author

Lee Sandlin is the author of Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild and reviews books for The Wall Street Journal. His essay “Losing the War” was included in the anthology The New Kings of Nonfiction. He lives in Chicago.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: Ghost Riders

Prologue: The Pillar in the Storm 

Part I The Thunder House

    1.  The Electricians 

    2.  A Little More of the Marvelous 

    3.  To Treat Master Franklin      

Part II The Storm War

    4.  The So-Called Tornado   

    5.  The Philosophy of Storms   

    6.  Under the Map     

    7.  One Dead, One Exhausted, One Converted 

    8.  The Finger of God   

Part III Red Wind and Tornado Green

    9.  The Great American Desert   

  10.  The Night Watch   

  11.  Premonitory Symptoms   

  12.  Violent Local Storms 

  13.  How to Escape 

  14.  The Desert Is No More  

  15.  The Book of Failure 

  16.  An Awful Commotion  

Part IV The Mystery of Severe Storms

  17. Canvas and Cellophane 

  18. The Unfriendly Sky   

  19. Visible Effects of the Invisible

Epilogue: The Wild Hunt 

A Note on Sources  

Acknowledgments 

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Kenai Kathy, June 7, 2013 (view all comments by Kenai Kathy)
A great history of tornadoes and the scientists who first studied them. Tornado season is here - those elusive storms that quickly appear and just as quickly disappear. Once thought to be just the stuff of stories, in the 1800's scientists started following and studying these storms. People had always told of "wind roads" where paths in forests were cleared by wind (now known to be the path of a tornado). There were (and still are) lots of theories about how tornadoes form, what's really in the center of a tornado, how to predict them and what to do to stay safe. I thought it was interesting that even 200 years ago, people knew the only safe place in a tornado was underground, and people had dug storm shelters or had basements.

So why so much more destruction from tornadoes today? More people live where they form, old lessons on safety have been forgotten, and new technology allows us to track the storms better. The quest continues to understand the physics behind the storms.

A very timely book to read!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307378521
Author:
Sandlin, Lee
Publisher:
Pantheon Books
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20130331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 PAGES BandW ILLUSTRATIONS
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9.53 x 6.58 x 1.15 in 1.34 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » US History » General
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Meterorology
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

Storm Kings: The Untold History of America's First Tornado Chasers Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780307378521 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "James Espy, the first meteorologist in America, thought of tornadoes as 'rapidly rising column of air' that operated according to the laws of steam power, pumping warm air into cold; his lifelong rival, William Redfield, maintained that the storms were 'gigantic whirlwind, spinning around a moving center like a top.' Though they were essentially espousing 'two halves of the same process,' they were never able to reconcile their differences and find common ground. Sandlin, however, deftly synthesizes and illuminates the duality of his title — both the tornado itself, which early settlers in America referred to as 'the Storm King'; and the individuals who made it their life's work to document, predict, and better understand those despots of the plains. Legendary storms roil throughout the text, from the funnel of fire — or as one eyewitness (whose eyeballs were consequently seared) described it, 'the finger of God' — that destroyed Peshtigo, Wis., in 1871, scorching over a million acres and killing 1,500 people, to the Tristate Tornado of 1925, which rampaged for 219 miles across parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. On ground level, Sandlin describes mankind's efforts to comprehend storms, from Ben Franklin's famous kite experiment to the F1 — 5 intensity rating system developed by Japanese immigrant Tetsuya Fujita. Sandlin makes talking about the weather much more than a conversational nicety — he makes it come brilliantly to life. 16 pages of b&w illus. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne and Miller Literary Associates." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations

From the acclaimed author of Wicked River comes Storm Kings, a riveting tale of supercell tornadoes and the quirky, pioneering, weather-obsessed scientists whose discoveries created the science of modern meteorology.

 

While tornadoes have occasionally been spotted elsewhere, only the central plains of North America have the perfect conditions for their creation. For the early settlers the sight of a funnel cloud was an unearthly event. They called it the “Storm King,” and their descriptions bordered on the supernatural: it glowed green or red, it whistled or moaned or sang. In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin explores America’s fascination with and unique relationship to tornadoes. From Ben Franklin’s early experiments to the “great storm war” of the nineteenth century to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin re-creates with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America’s history, including the Tri-state Tornado of 1925 and the Peshtigo “fire tornado,” whose deadly path of destruction was left encased in glass.

 

Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists who changed a nation—including James Espy, America’s first meteorologist, and Colonel John Park Finley, who helped place a network of weather “spotters” across the country. Along the way, Sandlin details the little-known but fascinating history of the National Weather Service, paints a vivid picture of the early Midwest, and shows how successive generations came to understand, and finally coexist with, the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

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