Isaac's Storm Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Isaac's Storm

On September 8, 1900, a storm roared into Galveston, Texas that killed between 6,000 and 10,000 people.
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How the magnitude of this storm could have been so tragically misread is something that is still debated among meteorologists, but Mr. Larson shows quite clearly the confluence of human error, arrogance and politics that created an environment ripe for just such a catastrophe. Competing weather bureaus, the concern about causing "undue panic" only to have the storm be less severe than predicted (observers weren't even allowed to use the word "hurricane"), among other things, all added up to the inaccurate forecast.

Along with the individual stories taken from oral histories of the survivors, which left me torn between tears and anger, I got a thorough, yet concise history of how hurricane prediction grew from mere observation of storms as they happened, to understanding of conditions that were conducive to a storm's creation.

As much as I hate to use the phrase "reads like a novel," this book truly does. It is accurate without being dry, and moving without being exploitative. It sheds much needed light on Isaac Cline and his storm, and I'm glad that Erik Larson was distracted from his original research and led down the path to Galveston.

Word of warning - some of the stories are necessarily speculative, given the amount of time that has passed, but Larson explains his reasons and the credibility of his choices in his extensive notes. Also, natives of Galveston and descendants of the survivors will likely take issue with the less than stellar portrayal of Isaac Cline. I suspect Larson's take on Cline's actions on September 8 is relatively close to the truth, but I don't think it will sit well with some.
The review of this Book prepared by Graceann Maciolek

The story of the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history -- and the people whose lives were affected by it. A fascinating read, and a fascinating glimpse in the American outlook and way of life.
The review of this Book prepared by James Keenley

Chapter Analysis of Isaac's Storm

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Kind Of History

Time of history:    -   20th century    -   19th century History of disaster/tragedy?    -   Yes Kind of disaster:    -   Hurricane/Storm Nationality?    -   American--South

Subjects of this Historical Account

Is the portrayal sympathetic?    -   Somewhat sympathetic From a certain profession/group?    -   bureaucracy Intelligence of subject of history:    -   Smart


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Texas Ice Caps/Sea?    -   Yes Where?    -   Ocean Water?    -   Yes Water:    -   drowning Big City?    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

How much gore?    -   5 () How fast-paced is the book?    -   9 () Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths    -   explicit references to deaths Book makes you feel...    -   frustrated How much focus on stories of individuals?    -   Focuses mostly on the people/nation level How much romance?    -   1 () Minor characters feature lots of:    -   scientists    -   businessmen    -   blue collar types Is this a kid's book?    -   Ages 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A handful Maps necessary?    -   Necessary maps provided Length of book    -   300-350 pages How much emphasis on small details?    -   7 ()

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