Thursday, May 31, 2012

Isaac's Storm - a review

Reading has always been one of my passions. I love books and the journeys that I take while I am reading.  Mostly I read fiction, specifically science fiction and fantasy.  Once I had Audrey I didn’t have the time or energy to read like I had before she was born and I missed it  When Amazon came out with the Kindle app for the iPhone I was so excited that I could have a book with me at all times that I immediately downloaded it and started buying electronic books.  Well, that quickly became expensive and I had already bought most of the books that I wanted to keep.  Plus I had no interest in buying books that I would only read once.  When I started researching what electronic books the library had available I was very pleased to find out they had both quite a selection available and they also had an iPhone app.  Sometimes a book I want to read is on a wait list so I end up reading books I wouldn’t normally read.  In an attempt to work on my writing skills I thought I would do a book report on some of these books.  Ok, I’m not in elementary school anymore so I probably should call this a book review instead! ;)

By Eric Larson

When I was a teenager I used to go down to Galveston, TX on a regular basis so I knew the basics about the September 1900 Galveston hurricane, that there was massive loss of life and property and it was the reason why the seawall had been constructed.  So when I came across this book I thought it might be interesting to read more detail about the situation.  Isaac Cline was the meteorologist at Galveston during the hurricane and the story switched between his life, the days leading up to the hurricane and how the U.S. Weather Bureau had been formed.  It was interesting to read how the study of meteorology was started and how some people saw it as nothing better than fortune telling.  Meteorology a very political topic and I was surprised how the political factors played into how much advance warning Galveston residents received about the hurricane.  What was particularly intriguing was the rivalry between the United States meteorologists and the Cuban meteorologists. 

The story had more tension than I expected from a non fiction book because I knew that something horrible was going to happen, but I didn’t know exactly how or when.  Switching between the different story lines helped make the dryer parts of the story easier to read and more interesting.  I skimmed some of the technical information about how the hurricane was formed, but someone else might find it interesting. 

What were heartbreaking were the stories about the families that had to endure the hurricane itself with little or no preparation.  As a mother what affected me the most were the children that were literally ripped from their parent’s arms by the water, or the orphans that were drowned because the nuns had tied them together in an effort to not lose the children in the flood waters.  

Overall I would give Isaac’s Storm four stars out of five. Only four stars because some parts were very dry and because I wouldn't want to read this book again.  Overall I was surprised how much I enjoyed this non fiction book and decided to read more of this author’s books.  Maybe I’ll end up reviewing those as well. 

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