I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
I would categorize the author as an expert on his home state, Florida. He has written ten booksI received this book in exchange for an honest review.
I would categorize the author as an expert on his home state, Florida. He has written ten books all of which are about Florida. He is currently a news and features writer for the Palm Beach Post in Palm Beach County, of course in Florida.
The central focus of this book is the Hurricane of 1928 that hit Guadeloupe (Sept 12), Puerto Rico (Sept 13/14), the Bahamas (Sept 15) and then Florida (Sept 16). Having struck West Palm Beach, it continued inland flooding the land bordering Okeechobee Lake where it was most destructive killing large numbers of poor, black, migrant farm workers before heading north passing by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Finger Lakes north of Toronto and finally petering out in Ontario, Canada. This cyclone remains one of the three Atlantic hurricanes to strike the southern mainland of Florida with a central pressure below 940 mbar (27.76 inHg), by which the ferocity of the storms are most commonly measured. The other two were the 1926 Miami hurricane and Hurricane Andrew of 1992. The different methods by which these storms are measured and categorized are fully covered.
The 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane claimed most likely 2500-3000 lives and is judged to be the second-deadliest hurricane in United States history. A south-blowing wind caused a lake surge of 6 to 9 feet to overflow the lake's inadequate dikes. The land was flooded for hundreds of square miles, survivors and dead bodies eventually deposited in the Everglades. Many were unidentifiable. Discrimination against the black and the poor being what it was in the South in the 20s and given the numbers killed, authorities simply were not up to the task of providing proper burial. Mass graves where Whites were separated from Blacks were as good as it got.
The book is extensively researched, but I never felt I was drowned in dry facts. I was given information I needed to know to understand what happened.
The flooding around Okeechobee Lake is the setting for the conclusion of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. An entire chapter focuses on the author’s life, the book and how it came to be written. This is just one of the many examples of the author’s extensive research. It is the depth of the research that makes the book so interesting.
This storm affected the lives of many, many people. To make the telling something a reader can emotionally relate to it is helpful to focus on a smaller, limited group. This the author does. The book begins by introducing those that we will meet up with later as we follow the storm’s path. The book ends by telling us what has happened to those that survived and of the descendants of those who perished.
At the book’s end is a chronological summary of the events as they unfolded. Also a listing of statistics, such as deaths, injured and damages.
The audiobook is very well narrated by Lee Ann Howlett. She reads clearly and steadily in an even, stable tone. As she gets into the telling it improves. It feels as though she comes to stride, she gathers strength and knows what she is speaking of. This is simply the feeling I got! She is immersed in the events and tells them to the listener step by step so all will become clear....more
I enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacI enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacted to the book! I am of the 21st century.
This is an autobiography and it is published long ago - in 1900! Booker T. Washington lived from 1856-1915. He was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. The exact year of his birth is not known. Some say 1856; he guesses maybe 1858 or 1859. Neither can we identify his father; the guess is he was white. During the Reconstruction Booker was still a youth. He worked at a corn mill and later in a coal mine, got himself educated at Hampton Institute, became a teacher, an author, an orator particularly famed for his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech and even met with President McKinley. He founded the Tuskegee Institute, a black college in Alabama. He received a Master of Arts Honorary Degree from Harvard in 1896. Clearly this is a man worth acclaim and a man of which it is interesting to learn a bit about.
It was the description of his life as a slave and the first years following the Declaration of Emancipation that captivated me. The small details, like not knowing where to sleep when given two sheets, like picking a surname, like never sitting down to a meal or how it feels to wear a flax shirt. Getting an education at Hampton Institute was quite an ordeal, but he was determined. I was rooting for him.
Much of this book is devoted to Booker’s philosophizing. I admire the man and his moral fortitude. I admire the importance he lays on self-reliance. I agree with his belief in the dignity of physical labor. I agree that education must be accomplished through use of one's hands, head and heart. I agree that those who are happiest do the most for others. I agree that more can be achieved through praise than through criticism. I do think he had a knack for saying things elegantly.
However, as Booker works toward establishing the Tuskegee Institute he has to convince others to donate, to contribute funds. He did in fact get money from Andrew Carnegie. He had the strong belief that given the facts, benefactors would contribute to the cause. The book begins to sound like a promotional sales pitch, and he repeats the same moral dicta over and over and over again. I do agree with much of what he says, but it became a preachy, repetitive rant and so exaggeratedly optimistic. (He states the KKK had disappeared!) Maybe in 1900 people could still be optimistic? I don’t know. Anyhow, at book’s end I was totally fed up! Was the latter half of the book written for the purpose of impressing others of his accomplishments and so more donations?!
The audiobook is narrated by Noah Waterman. The recording sound sometimes echoes and changes volume, but I could understand the spoken words. Neither bad, nor spectacular....more
Do NOT be as stupid as me. Don’t pick a book by its cover. Particularly when the cover does not accurately portray what the book will give you. I wantDo NOT be as stupid as me. Don’t pick a book by its cover. Particularly when the cover does not accurately portray what the book will give you. I wanted to re-test John Cheever and the cover drew my attention. Big mistake!
The primary focus of this novel is sexuality. The author was bisexual, so I have full understanding that one’s sexual identity was a topic of particular interest to him. Halfway through the book, not yet understanding that ambivalent feelings about one's sexual identity is in fact the book's central focus, I exploded, saying '"For God's sake, doesn't a person instinctively know when sex is good?" I am quite simply the wrong reader for this book. It should be noted, the book looks at men’s rather than women’s bisexuality.
I thought the book was about living near the sea or about appreciation of aquatic surroundings or about a fisherman's life or something to do with the sea! Look at the cover! We are told in the book’s description that this is to be a family chronicle of the Wapshots living in St. Botolphs, a "quintessential Massachusetts fishing village". We are told there will be stories of Captain Leander Wapshot, a venerable sea dog, but this is only where the story begins. The chapters flip between Captain Wapshot's journal entries about his youth (written in staccato, abbreviated, incomplete sentences) and the coming-of-age experiences of his two sons. What is often a central ingredient of coming-of-age stories? Well of course, sex. Here the author’s own bisexual leaning influences the telling. The youngest son, Coverly, is sixteen when the story begins. The older, Moses, is in college. We follow the father and these two sons until they are married and have their own children. There is a question of inheritance. (view spoiler)[Leander’s eccentric aunt Honora has willed her money to Moses and Coverly, but only if they have children. It is she who has the money in the family. (hide spoiler)] The two sons flee the village, one to NYC and the other to San Francisco and then as far afield as islands in the Pacific. So just forget that cover!
A secondary theme is estrangement; you feel this in each character’s loneliness, separateness and inability to relate to others. (Sex is often the Band-Aid stuck on a wound! Or a do-it-all pill to remedy unease.) We readers observe at a distance, just as the novel’s characters seem incapable of reaching out to each other. The result is an overall sadness and despondency.
Finally there is a message that what is important in life are “the ordinary things”. This is delivered by Leander in what he writes to his sons.
There are some beautiful lines. There is ironic, satirical humor. If you pay close attention, you come to realize that the author is in fact quite often joking with us. Well at least, that is my interpretation.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Joe Barrett. It is easy to follow, so the narration is good. One hears a melancholy that I think should be there. It expresses an inability to properly communicate.
Maybe this sounds like I liked the book? Well I didn’t. It didn’t give me at all what I was looking for. It was boring to listen to the stupid things the characters did. I simply couldn’t relate. Sex is portrayed in a fashion that put me off. The sex isn’t graphic; it just left me cold. Should sex leave you cold?! Both the cover and the book description led me astray. The central failure of the book is that the author failed to make it possible for me to empathize with the characters' ambivalent feelings. ...more