Craig's Reviews > Upheaval in Charleston: Earthquake and Murder on the Eve of Jim Crow

Upheaval in Charleston by Susan Millar Williams
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Dec 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 19th-century-american-history, civil-war-history
Read from December 22 to 24, 2011

A pleasant surprise read on an event I wasn't personally familiar with - a devastating earthquake that struck Charleston, SC and most of the east coast in 1886. The co-authors successfully accomplished something that Erik Larson (the recent Larson) should pay attention to - how to write narrative non-fiction that doesn't bore the reader and simultaneously provides insight into a time and place that capsulizes an era.

Upheaval portrays a South that struggled with the changes of Reconstruction, and in the story of Francis Dawson, readers are able to personalize the issues of the time better than any other book I've read on the subject. My only minor quibble is that Dawson's murder (I don't think this qualifies as a spoiler since it's in the book's title) is given such short coverage. But overall Upheaval in Charleston is a great read and a book that more people need to find.
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