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The Great Hurricane: 1938

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  660 ratings  ·  84 reviews
On the night of September 21,1938, news on the radio was full of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. There was no mention of any severe weather. By the time oceanfront residents noticed an ominous color in the sky, it was too late to escape. In an age before warning systems and the ubiquity of television, this unprecedented storm caught the Northeast off guard, obliterated coa ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2005)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  660 ratings  ·  84 reviews


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tasha
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, audio-reads
Interesting story. I've never heard of this hurricane but it was a terror! A surprise attack as the weather warning system was very different at that time.
Scott  Hitchcock
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I think only those with an operating knowledge of Long Island and coastal NE will really like this book. What drew me in was my grandparents were married in early October and ten days after the storm hit travel between Boston and Braintree where they live, 8 miles south, was still prohibitive. Imagine that in terms of today.

I do appreciate the author probably had a hard time researching the facts since those old enough to have a big memory of the storm would be over 90 years old at this point.
...more
Pamela
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great Hurricane: 1938 by Cherie Burns is good primarily because it deals with the human interest impact of such a huge storm. It came ashore at Long Island on September 21 with winds of 155 and gusts up to 180. Over the next 24 hours, it moved through New England causing incredible damage throughout those states to crops, trees, and livestock. Small villages and coastal cottages were totally eliminated. The storm surge set record heights as it hit at high tide which was at its yearly heights ...more
Linda
Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: disaster
Just so so in my opinion.
Frank
I listened to this on hoopla thanks to my local library.

Having read A Wind To Shake The World by Everett S. Allen years ago I didn't learn much from this offering. It's filled with personal accounts which were compelling but I found myself confusing individual people with each other often. The writing was good, the narrator didn't quite click with me for some reason but wasn't bad in any way.

I listened to this while hurricane Florence strengthens and approaches the southeast coast. What a long w
...more
Matt Lanza
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a meteorologist, I've read several more recent books on the 1938 hurricane, and this is probably the best in terms of how it details the human toll from the event. Others do a good job also, but this is probably the best I've read to this point. Very easy read also. A good introductory book to the storm and its impacts. Highly recommended especially if you want to get a sense of the horror that storm unleashed.
Rhonda Sue
Timely reading here. As we were experiencing Harvey and Irma, I was reading about the GH of 1938. I must say that this book read more like a diary and there were so many characters to keep track of that it was confusing. The horrors of a hurricane are just that and back then, no one could predict these events, and TV was non-existent. I thought I would enjoy this book more, but sadly I did not. The narrator was okay but it was rather humdrum.
Suzanne
When I needed a book set in Rhode Island for my 52 Books Around the USA Challenge, I was stumped. Certain states are really, really difficult to find. I had recently read a book about a natural disaster, So Terrible a Storm, which chronicled a 1905 storm that resulted in multiple shipwrecks on Lake Superior. I was in the mood for another book like that. After much research, I found The Great Hurricane: 1938 by Cherie Burns.

From the first pages, Burns' work of non-fiction is a page-turner, that l
...more
MichelleCH
In downtown Providence there is a plaque that identifies the high-water mark from the Hurricane of 1938. The Hurricane was a landmark event for the city in terms of the precautions put into place- the city is now protected by an immense hurricane barrier and flood precautions are taken very seriously. Every other storm is compared to the Great One, a once in every 100 years event.

This novel was a great way to more personally come to know the hurricane and its impact. It was fascinating to read a
...more
Amy
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
As a native New Englander who lives smack dab in the area of Connecticut that was devastated by this storm, I have more than a glancing interest in the topic. Even more than 70 years later, the people who live around here still "remember" it. I have vivid memories of my grandparents telling us about their experiences during the storm, and I have a friend who lost family members to the storm surge that swept through Watch Hill and Napatree Point in Rhode Island. In regards to this book, I might h ...more
Len Knighton
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As some of you may know, my system for picking the books I read is a bit strange but it seems to yield good results. After the devastation of three hurricanes in the past month or so, this system picked this book for me to read, just after the 79th anniversary of what is called GH38. This hurricane hit Long Island and the New England coast with great fury and with no warning for the residents of those communities. Indeed, a row of 39 homes along a beach in Connecticut where totally washed away w ...more
Susan
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A real page turner!!

I knew a little about the hurricane from bios on Katharine Hepburn but had no idea of the scope of the damage and loss of life. It reads like you are watching a disaster film! Highly recommended.
Mark Bosma
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good recounting of personal stories and clear explanations of the weather system and history. Would have liked to hear more detail about governmental changes to emergency response and recovery in the aftermath.
Julie Barrett
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Short book recounting stories of people who did and didn't survive the great hurricane of 1938 that struck the East coast. It could get a little confusing, keeping track of who is who. I think the stories could have been organized more coherently. Still, the stories themselves were gripping.

I kept worrying about everyone's pets even though I realized that in such a crisis all you can do is to try and keep yourself alive. I was amazed that 2 different people managed to keep their dogs alive whil
...more
Michael McCaskey
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first learned about the Great Long Island - New England Hurricane in a chapter of William Manchester's The Glory and the Dream, a social history of the United States from 1932 to 1972, a great book I will write about later.

In my opinion, Manchester's account is superior to this one, but it is relatively short. Manchester focuses on the storm's impact throughout its path, while this book focuses mostly on anecdotes about its weirder effects on Long Island and Southern New England - even more n
...more
Laura Bray
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Got this audio book for a trip up to Keller to visit family. (It counts for my "reading challenge" if I had it read *to* me, right? :-) )

Wait, what??? A huge hurricane *when*? And *where*? And it killed HOW many people??? I am usually pretty up to date on severe weather history, but I had never even heard of this storm.

Just like the great 1900 Galveston hurricane, the death toll and property damage were so high because the residents had *no* warning. Forecasting was somewhat better then than 190
...more
Carol
The author must have spent so much time researching this horrible hurricane. It is tragedy that 700 people died because no one believed that a hurricane would strike that area of the Northeast. For comparison, the narrator tells that hurricane Andrew killed 20 people. People also had did not have our early warning systems, they did see very low barometer readings and the birds were acting peculiar. The worst enemy was not believing that it could ever happen there.

So what made this audio book a d
...more
Dana
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this audiobook on Hoopla and realized I had never heard of The Great Hurricane: 1938 before. I do like nonfiction books like this one that gives historical facts about not only this subject but what else was going on during this time period.
Very interesting story about a historical event that was lost over time.
Kat
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great listen! I learned a lot not just about hurricanes, but also about life on Long Island/in CT and RI in the 1930s. The way the author told the story of the storm through the eyes of specific families impacted by it made for really powerful and compelling storytelling. It's naturally a heartbreaking read at times because many - people and animals - lost their lives in this storm.
Jean
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
For those of us who grew up hearing stories of the Hurricane of 38,this book gives more credence to those harrowing tales. The book also reminds us of a time before electronic communication and mass media storm warnings. I found it to be engrossing.
Lori Schroder
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book and true story about a catastrophic hurricane that cause
d so much damage and lived lost from Those Island up to Boston. Including the Long Island.
Jim Cavan
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Books about big weather are like porn to me.
Scott S.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another great nightmarish 'non-fiction novel,' this one detailing the devastating but now sort-of-forgotten storm also known as 'The Long Island Express.' Burns' work was a nice companion piece to RA Scotti's similar "The Sudden Sea."
Brook
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
2.5 stars.

This was another audiobook, so I'll be speaking in terms of #s of discs. The first two discs were basically Ladies' Home Journal meets some sort of publication that, I am sure, exists to showcase people's homes in the Hamptons, like how every retirement/luxury community in the US has its own local publication that's basically a restaurant guide/Chamber/real estate ad printed on glossy paper.

"Dot had recently redone her home in a stunning pink and white wallpaper, and had put down comp
...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Great Hurricane (1938) by Cherie Burns, narrated by Anna Fields, produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from audible.com.
The publisher’s note describes the scene and this book as well as I could. The only thing I’ll add is that about halfway through the book, I realized that the narrator, Anna Fields, died in a flash flood in her basement because she couldn’t get out two years after reading this book for Blackstone. It is a really eerie feeling.
Publisher’s note:
This is the spellbinding ho
...more
Elizabeth K.
Mar 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007-new-reads
In 1938, a hurricane hit Long Island (actually an island) and Rhode Island (not actually an island). This should be up there with great American natural disasters, but the author puts forward an interesting theory that we don't hear about this one so much because the next day news media were reporting the division of the Sudetenland and the hurricane didn't get much coverage outside the region even at the time. The author tracked down survivors of the hurricane, and the bulk of the book is the r ...more
Kate
Nov 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
This is a book club selection for my yacht club book club. Many of us have spent summer vacations boating on the Long Island Sound and some of us ( me!) knew nothing about the Great Hurricane of 1938. Cherie Burns writes about the different cities and communities affected and especially how people were caught so unaware. Weather forecasting was primitive by today's standards and there was only radio and newspapers to warn people of the weather coming. The death toll and destruction were huge for ...more
Chris
Great story poorly told. My grandfather's family was from Westerly, Rhode Island, where dozens died in the surprise storm, so I grew up hearing about it. I jumped at the chance to learn more when I saw this book. Unfortunately, the writing is disjointed, repetitive, and sometimes contradictory. If I heard one more time about old Yankee families who considered any show of wealth unseemly I would have thrown the audio player across the room. It was also very difficult to keep track of who was who. ...more
Evelyn
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The hurricane they said would never happen

Local folklore had it that hurricanes did not reach New England, the weather service was in its infancy without today's technology and warning systems, and the beginnings of WWII overshadowed the news all combined to create the hurricane that few of us even knew happened in 1938. We may complain when weather forecasters "get it wrong" today but we forget that there is a system in place that protects by warning the public of impending weather disasters.
Baglady
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: wplc-holdings
I've lived in several areas where hurricanes and typhoons are part of seasonal (if not daily) concern. I had never heard of this storm which occurred in an area where "hurricanes don't happen". This describes the period before, during and immediately after the storm as it hit Long Island, Rhode Island and Connecticut (though a larger area was affected). The author focuses on several families who survived, personalizing the drama as well as some petty situations associated with the storm. The wri ...more
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interesting story, not so great writing 2 4 Oct 11, 2007 06:53AM  
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“Carl Dalin wanted to take his car, a new car Burghard had given him earlier in the summer that he was especially proud of. Burghard began to explain that the situation was more serious than that. Mabel came downstairs and put on a leather jacket, one she had bought in Hawaii and loved, over her swimsuit. She decided she and George would carry their two dogs, Peter the cocker spaniel, and Bitzie the wirehaired fox terrier.” 0 likes
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