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Isaac's Storm


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About the Author

ERIK LARSON is the author of four national bestsellers: In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm, which have collectively sold more than 5.5 million copies. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and other publications and his books have been published in fourteen countries.


For his latest, Larson (author most recently of Lethal Passage, about the gun industry) draws on the diaries of Isaac Cline, who was chief observer for the Federal Weather Bureau in Galveston, TX, when a ferocious hurricane hit on September 8, 1900, leaving 10,000 dead. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Torqued by drama and taut with suspense, this absorbing narrative of the 1900 hurricane that inundated Galveston, Tex., conveys the sudden, cruel power of the deadliest natural disaster in American history. Told largely from the perspective of Isaac Cline, the senior U.S. Weather Bureau official in Galveston at the time, the story considers an era when "the hubris of men led them to believe they could disregard even nature itself." As barometers plummet and wind gauges are plucked from their moorings, Larson (Lethal Passage) cuts cinematically from the eerie "eyewall" of the hurricane to the mundane hubbub of a lunchroom moments before it capitulates to the arriving winds, from the neat pirouette of Cline's house amid rising waters to the bridge of the steamship Pensacola, tossed like flotsam on the roiling seas. Most intriguingly, Larson details the mistakes that led bureau officials to dismiss warnings about the storm, which killed over 6000 and destroyed a third of the island city. The government's weather forecasting arm registered not only temperature and humidity but also political climate, civic boosterism and even sibling rivalries. America's patronizing stance toward Cuba, for instance, shut down forecasts from Cuban meteorologists, who had accurately predicted the Galveston storm's course and true scale, even as U.S. weather officials issued mollifying bulletins calling for mere rain and high winds. Larson expertly captures the power of the storm itself and the ironic, often catastrophic consequences of the unpredictable intersection of natural force and human choice. Major ad/promo; author tour; simultaneous Random House audio; foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan and the U.K. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

YA-Larson has brought together powerful elements to create one of the most memorable of the "natural disaster" docudramas that have come out recently. Meteorologists within the U.S. Weather Bureau at the turn of the 20th century had become so confident of their own forecasting abilities that they dismissed with irritation troubling weather reports out of Cuba. In a burgeoning port city like Galveston, TX, in 1900, the idea that severe damage could be done by a hurricane seemed preposterous. Following several threads at once, Larson creates a likable character in the real-life weatherman Isaac Cline, tracing his career as a meteorologist. A tropical depression takes on an ominous life of its own as it thrashes its way through the Caribbean and up through the Gulf of Mexico. The town of Galveston becomes one of the major characters in the story. Poignant details and sweeping narrative create a book that is hard to put down even though the outcome is a well-known historical fact: more than 6000 dead and an entire city devastated. At the same time, Larson chronicles a critical period of history for the National Weather Bureau. The blatant errors in judgment led to changes within that federal agency. More than anything, this is a gripping and heartbreaking story of what happens when arrogance meets the immutable forces of nature.-Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"A gripping account ... fascinating to its core, and all the more compelling for being true." -The New York Times Book Review

"Gripping ... the Jaws of hurricane yarns." -The Washington Post

"The best storm book I've read, consumed mostly in twenty-four hours; these pages filled me with dread. Days later, I am still glancing out the window nervously. A well-told story." -Daniel Hays, author of My Old Man and the Sea

"Isaac's Storm so fully swept me away into another place, another time that I didn't want it to end. I braced myself from the monstrous winds, recoiled in shock at the sight of flailing children floating by, and shook my head at the hubris of our scientists who were so convinced that they had the weather all figured out. Erik Larson's writing is luminous, the story absolutely gripping. If there is one book to read as we enter a new millennium, it's Isaac's Storm, a tale that reminds us that there are forces at work out there well beyond our control, and maybe even well beyond our understanding." -Alex Kotlowitz, author of The Other Side of the River and There Are No Children Here

"There is electricity in these pages, from the crackling wit and intelligence of the prose to the thrillingly described terrors of natural mayhem and unprecedented destruction. Though brimming with the subtleties of human nature, the nuances of history, and the poetry of landscapes, Isaac's Storm still might best be described as a sheer page turner." -Melissa Faye Greene, author of Praying for Sheetrock and The Temple Bombing

"Superb.... Larson has made [Isaac] Cline, turn-of-the-century Galveston, and the Great Hurricane live again." -The Wall Stret Journal

"Erik Laron's accomplishment is to have made this great-storm story a very human one -thanks to his use of the large number of survivors' accounts-without ignoring the hurricane itself." -The Boston Globe

"Vividly captures the devastation." -Newsday

"This brilliant exploration of the hurrican's deadly force...tracks the gathering storm as if it were a character.... Larson has the storyteller's gift of keeping the reader spellbound." -The Times-Picayune

"With consumate narrative skill and insight into turn-of-the-century American culture.... Larson's story is about the folly of all who believe that man can master or outwit the forces of nature." -The News & Observer

"A powerful story ... a classic tale of mankind versus nature." -The Christian Science Monitor

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