Synopses & Reviews
At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.
That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.
In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.
In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.
Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.
"Superstormand#160;reads like the script of a blockbuster movie, transforming that Halloween storm into a nightmarish monster come to life. She provides horrifying vignettes of the storm's many personal tragedies." --and#160;Washington Postand#160;and#160;
"Wise and harrowing." --and#160;Associated Press
"Fascinating...Meticulous...Heartbreaking...Miles's account--this year'sand#160;Five Days at Memorial--is an important record for future planners and a gripping read." --and#160;Library Journaland#160;(starred review)
"Deeply reported and richly detailed narrative...A masterful job of telling the human tale of the storm." --and#160;Miami Herald
"Explains how a storm so strong it filled the windows of the International Space Station managed to catch the nation flat-footed." --and#160;New York Post
"[A] wide-angle, ticktock account of the massive Atlantic storm system that slammed the Eastern Seaboard on Oct. 29, 2012." -and#160;Newsday
"Thrilling...Even for those of us who have heard countless hurricane stories,and#160;Superstorm, is a valuable addition. It goes beyond the scary radar screens and harrowing photos of the aftermath to the ongoing, massive problems of predicting and surviving such storms." -and#160;Tampa Bay Times
"A gripping book on an enormous scale." --and#160;Book Trib
"Deftly describes the intricacies of meteorology, government bureaucracy and maritime travel while weaving together several narrative strands into a compelling tapestry." --and#160;The Roanoke Times
"A great story...Miles got the essence of the event right, in a way that few books about hurricanes do. Most often the wind and the water, the damage, and the heartbreak are the story. and this book has plenty of that, but there's another layer here. The fabric of this story is the myriad of critical, heart-pounding, and life-altering decisions that people made -- in and out of government -- with less-than-perfect tools or information."
-- Bryan Norcross, Senior Hurricane Specialist, The Weather Channel
"Every great storm deserves its books, but only a storm as enormous and foreboding as Sandy deserves Kate Miles. From feckless mayors to anguished weathermen, from the desks of dedicated scientists to the captains of doomed sailing vessels, from unheard warnings to the emotion of shocked victims, from the Caribbean to New York Harbor, and finally to a looming preparedness disaster, Kate Miles creates the most harrowing and complete portrait of a weather event you' ever read. A thinking person's thriller, a weather buff's dream, a warning we ignore at our peril, SUPERSTORM delivers on all fronts." - Bill Roorbach, author ofand#160;Life Among Giantsand#160;andand#160;The Remedy for Love
and#8220;Superstorm exhumes a recent epic disaster from our denial-shortened memories and slams it back where it belongs, in all its amazing fury: a screaming alert, dead ahead, to brace for what may be next if we keep messing with nature. This is first-rate, exhaustive reporting, and a ripping read.and#8221; -- Alan Weisman, NYT bestselling author of The World Without Us
and#8220;Riveting. Miles follows Sandy as it grows from a benign tropical wave over the Sahara into the largest Atlantic hurricane on record. Reading like a cross between A Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air, Superstorm is a wild story masterfully told.and#8221; --Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated
"The Big One is coming. This book will sweep into town, pick you up, and carry you away. Like a great and gripping novel, Superstorm takes us moment-by-moment through the days building up to and climaxing in the largest storm the world has ever seen, while making us care deeply for those in the storm's path. It's a thrilling book. Pick it up, read it, and be transported." --David Gessner, author of The Tarball Chronicles and Return of the Osprey
"A splendid account."and#160;-- Simon Winchester, author ofand#160;Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded
The first complete moment-by-moment account of the largest Atlantic storm system ever recordedand#151;a hurricane like no other
The sky was lit by a full moon on October 29, 2012, but nobody on the eastern seaboard of the United States could see it. Everything had been consumed by cloud. The stormand#8217;s immensity caught the attention of scientists on the International Space Station. Even from there, it seemed almost limitless: 1.8 million square feet of tightly coiled bands so huge they filled the windows of the Station. It was the largest storm anyone had ever seen.
Initially a tropical storm, Sandy had grown into a hybrid monster. It charged across open ocean, picking up strength with every step, baffling meteorologists and scientists, officials and emergency managers, even the traditional maritime wisdom of sailors and seamen: What exactly was this thing? By the time anyone decided, it was too late.
And then the storm made landfall.
Sandy was not just enormous, it was also unprecedented. As a result, the entire nation was left flat-footed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration couldnand#8217;t issue reliable warnings; the Coast Guard didnand#8217;t know what to do. In Superstorm, journalist Kathryn Miles takes readers inside the maelstrom, detailing the stories of dedicated professionals at the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service. The characters include a forecaster who risked his job to sound the alarm in New Jersey, the crew of the ill-fated tall ship Bounty, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Christie, and countless coastal residents whose homesand#151;and livesand#151;were torn apart and then left to wonder . . . When is the next superstorm coming?
Includes bibliographical references (p. 307-313) and index.
About the Author
KATHRYN MILES is a faculty member at Chatham University and Green Mountain College. Her article for Outside on one Hurrican Sandy story was named a and#147;must readand#8221; by The New Yorker, Longform, and The Daily Beast. Her writing has also appeared in Best American Essays. She lives in Belfast, Maine.
Table of Contents
Beach: September 8, 1900 --ch. 1.Law of storms --ch. 2.Serpent's coil --ch. 3.Spectacle --ch. 4.Cataclysm --ch. 5.Strange news --ch. 6.Haunted.