Synopses & Reviews
On the night of September 21, 1938, news on the radio was full of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. There was no mention of severe weather approaching New England. By the time oceanfront residents noticed an ominous yellow color in the sky, it was too late. In a matter of hours, a massive hurricane of unprecedented force ripped its way from Long Island to Providence, obliterating coastal communities, destroying whole commercial fishing fleets from Montauk to Narragansett Bay, and killing seven hundred people.
Early that morning, salt fishermen heading out on calm seas noticed a sudden drop in the barometer. Hurtling toward them at a record speed was a hurricane that would strike with catastrophic waves surging over fifty feet. Winds whipped up to 186 miles per hour, trashing boats and smashing homes from Long Island to Connecticut and Rhode Island. Most victims never knew what hit them.
Like The Perfect Storm, Burns's spellbinding storytelling follows the storm's punishing path in a seamless and suspenseful narrative, preserving for posterity the legendary story of the Great Hurricane and the personal stories of those affected by its swath of destruction.
"Traveling at the unheard of speed of 60 mph and with a span of 1,000 miles, the Great Hurricane of 1938 ravaged Long Island and coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, killing 700 and literally wiping some communities off the map. As the storm occurred before the advent of hurricane tracking technology, its size was not anticipated, and unaccustomed to such a violent hurricane, some residents eagerly awaited its arrival as an entertainment. In sometimes overheated prose, Burns frequently compares the deadly storm to a cat enraged and ready to pounce as she chronicles everyday lives ripped apart by GH38's power. Burns's liberal use of detailed personal accounts gives the text a gripping intimacy, grace and nuance: of one woman Burns writes, 'she told everybody to take off their shoes, in case they were going to have to swim. The sight of the girls' shoes set neatly in a row made Catherine want to weep.' Burns at times piles on so many first-person tales that the scope of the storm's impact is somewhat muted. Still, from start to finish, this powerful story of nature's fury and human survival pulls the reader in and doesn't let go. Agent, Todd Shuster." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
With masterful storytelling skill, Burns follows the punishing path of the Great Hurricane of 1938, which hit the eastern seaboard, from Long Island to Connecticut and Rhode Island, in a seamless and suspenseful narrative, preserving for posterity the personal stories of survivors and the legend of the storm.