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Monday, February 19, 2018

Wish List 5: Disaster Events–Non-Fiction

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Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme.  I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  I’ve spoken before about my fascination with reading novels and non-fiction that revolve around disaster events.  Not only do I find these events to be more soul-touching, but they lend themselves to good drama as well.  Here are 5 non-fiction books about some new events on my radar.

Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, Its People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History by Denise Gess and William Lutz

firestorm"Novelist Denise Gess and historian William Lutz brilliantly restore the event to its rightful place in the forefront of American historical imagination." —Chicago Sun-Times

On October 8, 1871—the same night as the Great Chicago Fire—the lumber town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, was struck with a five-mile-wide wall of flames, borne on tornado-force winds of one hundred miles per hour that tore across more than 2,400 square miles of land, obliterating the town in less than one hour and killing more than two thousand people.

At the center of the blowout were politically driven newsmen Luther Noyes and Franklin Tilton, money-seeking lumber baron Isaac Stephenson, parish priest Father Peter Pernin, and meteorologist Increase Lapham. In Firestorm at Peshtigo, Denise Gess and William Lutz vividly re-create the personal and political battles leading to this monumental natural disaster, and deliver it from the lost annals of American history.

Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917 by Laura M. MacDonald

curse of the narrowsThe events of the horrific Halifax explosion are well documented: on December 6, 1917, the French munitions ship Mont Blanc and the Belgian relief ship Imo collide in the Halifax harbour. Nearly 2,000 people are killed; over 9,000 more are injured. The story of one of the world’s worst non-natural disasters has been told before, but never like this.

In a sweeping narrative, Curse of the Narrows tells a tale of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, retracing the steps of survivors through the wreckage of a city destroyed. Laura M. MacDonald weaves a panoramic chronicle of the astonishing international response to the explosion, telling of the generous donations of money and medical specialists made by the city of Boston, of how the number of horrific injuries to Halifax’s children inspired startling developments in pediatric medicine, and exploring the disaster’s chilling link to the creation of the atomic bomb.

Filled with archival photos, defined by meticulous research andi nfused with a storyteller’s sensibility, Curse of the Narrows is a compelling and powerful book.


Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester

krakatoaThe bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano -- Krakatoa.

The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa -- the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster -- was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round the planet for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogotá and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere.

Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling back to life.

Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever by Geoff Williams

washed awayThe storm began March 23, 1913, with a series of tornadoes that killed 150 people and injured 400.  Then the freezing rains started and the flooding began. It continued for days.  Some people drowned in their attics, others on the roads when the tried to flee. It was the nation's most widespread flood ever -- more than 700 people died, hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed, and millions were left homeless. The destruction extended far beyond the Ohio valley to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Vermont. Fourteen states in all, and every major and minor river east of the Mississippi.

In the aftermath, flaws in America's natural disaster response system were exposed, echoing today's outrage over Katrina.  People demanded change. Laws were passed, and dams were built.  Teams of experts vowed to develop flood control techniques for the region and stop flooding for good. So far those efforts have succeeded. It is estimated that in the Miami Valley alone, nearly 2,000 floods have been prevented, and the same methods have been used as a model for flood control nationwide and around the world.


Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo

close to shoreCombining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.

During the summer before the United States entered World War I, when ocean swimming was just becoming popular and luxurious Jersey Shore resorts were thriving as a chic playland for an opulent yet still innocent era's new leisure class, Americans were abruptly introduced to the terror of sharks. In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake-and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland-the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history.

For Americans celebrating an astoundingly prosperous epoch much like our own, fueled by the wizardry of revolutionary inventions, the arrival of this violent predator symbolized the limits of mankind's power against nature.

Interweaving a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark's five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued, Michael Capuzzo has created a nonfiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. From the unnerving inevitability of the first attack on the esteemed son of a prosperous Philadelphia physician to the spine-tingling moment when a farm boy swimming in Matawan Creek feels the sandpaper-like skin of the passing shark, Close to Shore is an undeniably gripping saga.

Heightening the drama are stories of the resulting panic in the citizenry, press and politicians, and of colorful personalities such as Herman Oelrichs, a flamboyant millionaire who made a bet that a shark was no match for a man (and set out to prove it); Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols, faced with the challenge of stopping a mythic sea creature about which little was known; and, most memorable, the rogue Great White itself moving through a world that couldn't conceive of either its destructive power or its moral right to destroy.

Scrupulously researched and superbly written, Close to Shore brings to life a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history. Masterfully written and suffused with fascinating period detail and insights into the science and behavior of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.


Wish List 5

In the Heart of the Sea     Denali’s Howl         The Johnstown Flood
★★★★ ½☆                ★★★★☆                     ★★★★☆      


If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (to be updated as they go live)

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Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

1 comment:

  1. These all sound good! Maybe I can add at least one to my list. Strange that I've never heard about the Peshtigo fire. You'd think with over 2000 victims, it would be well-known. Chicago gets all the press...LOL!

    ReplyDelete

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