Courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas, awakened on September 8, 1900, on its way to becoming the most prosperous city in the nation, brimming with activity, commerce, and confidence. The following morning, it was a city decimated and humbled by nature, its businesses and homes unrecognizable, its hope swept away by what is still the deadliest weather disaster in American history.

At the turn of the century, Isaac Cline was the chief weatherman for Texas -- he was also the one man who could have saved Galveston. The morning the storm hit, he watched as huge ocean swells transfigured the usually calm seascape of the Gulf Coast of Texas, timing the arrival of each swell, noting its size and shape. What he had yet to realize was that he had stumbled upon the greatest storm ever to target America, one in which eight thousand men, women, and children were about to lose their lives -- a figure more than twice that of the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and the Great San Francisco Earthquake.

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History is Erik Larson's riveting and detailed account of that storm. It is also the story of Isaac Cline, the nascent National Weather Service, the town and people of Galveston, and America at the last turning of the century, when the hubris of men led them to believe they could disregard even nature itself.

 



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