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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  40,921 ratings  ·  3,317 reviews
National Bestseller

September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely d
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 11th 2000 by Vintage Books USA (first published 1999)
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Katie I actually live on the seawall in Galveston. This book is great history. We've had more recent storms (like Ike in 2008) and we'll have storms again -…moreI actually live on the seawall in Galveston. This book is great history. We've had more recent storms (like Ike in 2008) and we'll have storms again - it's a part of life living on the gulf! (less)
Erin Bottger (Bouma)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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4.06  · 
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 ·  40,921 ratings  ·  3,317 reviews


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karen
erik larson is the darling of the narrative nonfiction world, and while this is the first of his books i have read, i’ve long appreciated his commitment to cover-consistency:






and then there’s this one, breaking up the visual flow:



written in 1999, this is one of his first, and i can only assume that, along with growing into a particular font-and-layout groove as his career progressed, he also grew as a writer.

'cuz this one was kind of zzzzz.

here’s the thing - i am more or less freaked out by natu
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Nathan
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who live inland.
Shelves: history, science
Ever want to read a nonfiction tragedy about a presumptive meteorologist? Exactly. Still, Isaac's Storm is an engaging cautionary tale, and one with a bit of relevance for America today. In fact the book is almost foreshadowing in that it was published just a couple of years before Hurricane Katrina. The writing in this book is not nearly as tuned as it is in The Devil in the White City, but Larson is still better at this than nine of ten nonfiction writers. Side note: when Katrina hit, several ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
It's been 15 years since I read this chilling account of the event that annihilated more than 6,000 American souls in one fell swoop, but it still haunts me.

As Galveston and Corpus Christie brace themselves for Hurricane Harvey, this fantastic book is fresh on my mind.

Today, satellite imagery and long term storm forecasts are standard fare. We've all had televisions since our parents or even grandparents were kids. Before that, radios kept people in the know. This outstanding author waltzes us
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Matt
Sep 18, 2011 rated it liked it
When Hurricane Irene made landfall last month, I’ll admit to feeling a tiny bit of storm envy. Ensconced in landlocked Nebraska, I could only watch on CNN and MSNBC as the winds slashed and the rain pelted and the seas rose. Friends on the east coast littered my Facebook feed with updates about closures, storm preparations, and hurricane parties. It was the last of these that really made me jealous. I love situational drinking, and a hurricane drunk sounded like a great way to wile away the wind ...more
Michael Ferro
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Erik Larson has the mind of a dedicated historian and the heart of a yarn-spinning storyteller. ISSAC'S STORM was everything I had hoped it would be, both scrupulously detailed and as enthralling as any Hollywood disaster blockbuster. It should come as no surprise really, as Larson has demonstrated himself as one of America's most unique and readable historians. Still, I can't help but to feel awed whenever I read a book about a 100-year-old storm that keeps me so on the edge of my seat.

Larson
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Rachel
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Erik Larson delivers every time. He has the rare ability to take historical events and weave together yarns that in the end feel like you're reading a page-turning novel. In "Isaac's Storm" Larson takes us to a thriving seaside city in Texas circa 1900, to a time when people felt they could 'control' nature. He paints the story of how the infamous hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas, on September 8th of that year devastated not just a whole community but also destroyed people's faith in man's ab ...more
Chrissie
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
SPOILER FREE!!!

This is a book focused on the science of weather. If that subject does not intersts you, do not rad this book. You must be interested in this science. It is a book of non-fiction; don't expect a book that will relate a harrowing tale of the hurricane that destroyed Galveston in September 1900. You will get that too, but first you must build up to the storm and understand the politics dictating the actions of the Weather Bureau. The scientific facts are mixed with engaging portraya
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ALLEN
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Here's a tragedy that could not have been completely avoided, but due to man's folly became much worse than it should have been. The U.S. Weather Service in September of 1900 ignored most reports of a severe hurricane brewing in the Caribbean. Drawing on a great deal of denial and no small amount of racism, the Americans condemned Cuban forecasts (which were also understated, but not nearly so heinously) as "emotional," avoiding almost as a matter of faith "poetic" terms like "eye" (of the storm ...more
'Aussie Rick'
Jun 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
What a great story! This book just raced along full of facts and interesting detail about "a man, a time, and the deadliest hurricane in history." I must admit that when this book was first released in Australia I wasn't overly interested. It didn't sound like something that would interest me in the slightest.

How wrong can you be, after picking the book up for the third or fourth time and actually taking the time to see what the story was about I had to read it. The author, Erik Larson, present
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Checkman
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Popular history with just enough science thrown in to explain what happened without causing the reader to go cross-eyed. Fast moving and engrossing in the tradition of the best suspense/disaster fiction only the 1900 Galveston Hurricane was real. Somewhere between 6,000-8,0000 people lost their lives and the city of Galveston, Texas sustained a body blow that derailed it's ambitions of becoming one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the United States. It's now a moderate sized city that rel ...more
Diane
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. As always, Erik Larson does a superb job with this true story about the hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas USA in 1900, and killed over 6000 people. Isaac Cline is employed by the national Weather Bureau in Galveston, and the book shows just how he helped, and hindered, the handling of the storm. You'll get an intimate look at the science of weather, political maneuverings in various departments, and an hour-by-hour record of the events which happened to the folks who lived, or ...more
JanB
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
As with all of Erik Larson's books, this one is well-researched and takes the facts and blends them with personal stories. Fans of the author will find much to enjoy.
Lobstergirl
Jan 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-history
It's probably more than a little shameful to admit it post-Katrina, but weather porn can be deeply satisfying. Hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, mudslides, styrofoam impaling oak trees, low pressure troughs, the Beaufort scale - don't you feel a little tingly already? When we combine weather porn with the romance of a good story, we get Sebastian Junger and The Perfect Storm: the perfect balance between good science and great storytelling, weaving characters, lives, rescue efforts, and ...more
Jeanette
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book details the 1900 Galveston Hurricane disaster. But it does so through the life biography of Issac Cline. He was instrumental for weather prediction and some aspects of governmental weather authority connections.

Having had the Kindle read before, I finished this go around with the hardcover. I was a bit disappointed that it had some excellent charts and maps but absolutely no photographs.

Larson does these non-fiction accounts well. This was not my favorite, but it sure puts you exactly
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Jim
3.5 *

At the dawn of the twentieth century American's reveled in new discoveries, new technologies, mastery over everything. Isaac Cline, the chief meteorologist at the Galveston, Texas office of the U.S. Weather Bureau, was a man of science and believed no storm could do serious harm to the city of Galveston, a growing city destined for a great future. In September 1900 this cultural hubris proved deadly.

In the summer of 1900 odd things were happening. A heat wave gripped large parts of the Unit
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Paul Falk
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author had consumed mountains of research to produce this emotionally charged historical nonfictional account of the hurricane to end all hurricanes that consumed the city of Galveston, Texas. This had been and still remains today the most horrific loss of life due to a catastrophic event in the United States with an estimated death toll estimated at 8000. I had been dutifully reminded and ever more respectful that we are always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

On September 8, 1900, Isaac Cline
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Kristen
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I became a fan of Erik Larson after reading Devil In The White City. As a bit of a history buff, I love the way he makes you feel as though you are really in whatever time period he is writing about. This book was especially interesting to me because I have been to Galveston and visited the hurricane museum. Since Erik Larson loves to give a lot of background details I had a hard time getting into the book (a problem I also had with Devil in the White City). But once the hurricane started to get ...more
Anne ✨
Well, this was ok, but I didn't find it as engaging as Larson's Dead Wake story. The lengthy history on hurricanes and weather reporting was a bit dry, and the characters within this story weren't all that engaging. The relating of the disaster itself was very good though, and I learned a lot, not previously realizing the scope of lives lost and destruction in its path.
Becky
I feel terrible when I say I like these sorts of books. Perhaps I should say I admire the book, the story that the author accomplished, and that I still feel heartbroken for the pain and suffering that the survivors of the disaster. They are all dead now, the hurricane killed 6,000 people more than a hundred years ago, but their suffering was real, families were blotted out entirely, people that would be great-grandchildren now, never existed because in disasters its just as much about luck as i ...more
Marialyce
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After suffering the effects of hurricane Irene, I thought this would be a good book to really find out how devastating a hurricane could be. I so enjoyed reading of the way in which the weather bureau of 1900 and earlier was filled with corruption and a sense that what they thought was the only right thought. I guess not much politically has changed and yet with all out modern advances, we still have such a time getting the weather right.

Isaac Cline, the meteorologist for the Galveston area put
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Mike
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it

The first “intimation” of the true extent of the disaster, Benjamin recalled, “came when the body of a child floated into the station.”

Doesn't that send a chill down your spine? The true story of the 1900 Galveston hurricane is told in the dramatic, gripping style I am coming to love. Erik Larsen's Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History is superb. His description of the storm's progression and finally hitting Galveston is riveting. Having gone through a hurricane
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☯Emily
In 2013, my son and I visited Galveston, Texas during his spring break. Even though the great hurricane of 1900 happened more than a century ago, its presence is everywhere you turn. You can take a walking tour, visiting some of the buildings and houses that survived. Most of these buildings will have a high water mark recording the height of the water in the hurricane of 1900 as well as other marks for other hurricanes since then.

The bookstores had Isaac's Storm for sale. It tells the story of
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Eric
An interesting and often sad of several accounts of the great hurricane that ravaged Galveston, Texas in September 1900. This Katrina class or stronger hurricane hit this city with the people having no knowledge or warning of the intensity and power these types of storms can unleash.

The book loosely follows Isaac Cline and his brother who were the weather observers working for the newly formed National Weather Bureau during this tragic event.

The beginning of the book has a general history of sev
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Lynn
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This is an historical account of the devastating hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. Over 6000 people were killed in what has been called the greatest natural disaster in American history. Much of the story is told from the POV of Isaac Cline, the resident meteorologist for the US Weather Bureau in Galveston. Working with what by modern standards would be relatively crude instruments, the Bureau tried, and failed to map and predict the path of the storm. Political con ...more
Ashley
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ashley by: Jeannette
It’s hard to rate a book 4 (“I really liked it”) stars when its contents are so disturbing. In this case, 4 stars means excellent research and a narrative that manages to be both totally gripping and devoid of sensationalism. It feels like this book was needed in order to finally do journalistic justice to the hurricane that leveled Galveston in September 1900—because goodness knows Isaac Cline’s own accounts, which increasingly exaggerated his heroism over time, did not. And the reports by his ...more
Diana Long
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading history can be bland and dry but not so when it's written by Erik Larson who adds that human touch to the story. Still listed as the worst natural disaster in U. S. History, the hurricane of 1900 that decimated Galveston, Texas and is estimated to have taken 6-12,000 lives is the main focus of the work. The author brought the story to life through extensive research and review of documents and first person accounts. Chosen as the protagonist of this event the author selected Isaac Cline ...more
Dianne
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The death and destruction described by survivors of the 1900 hurricane over the island city of Galveston is terrifying. More people perished in Galveston than in any previous U. S. disaster. Wind gusts of 200 miles an hour generating pressure of thirty tons slammed against the wall of the houses. The hurricane had travelled 800 miles and its flow was focused directly at the city of Galveston. Galveston became Atlantis.
"Mr. Youens' house rose like a huge steamboat, was swept back and suddenly di
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Sterlingcindysu
As others have said, the first third is pretty dry scientific stuff. Looking back I made the same comment about Thunderstruck. It's good to reach out beyond your comfort zones and learn something (which I do with all of Larson's books.)

How sad that some survivors of the storms were then bitten by snakes!
Ms.pegasus
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
Shelves: nonfiction, history
1900 was a time when passenger pigeons still darkened the sky, and bathing suits were made of mohair. The Spanish-American War had been waged the previous year. Galveston was a booming seaport riding high on a surge of (to the modern eye) precarious optimism. With these, and many more details, Larson immerses the reader in a zeitgeist ripe for natural catastrophe. There was a burgeoning faith in technology. The U.S. Weather Service, then part of the War Department, was like an adolescent, its ex ...more
Pamela
“Galveston spun through space at nine hundred miles an hour. The trade winds blew. Great masses of air shifted without a sound. Somewhere, a butterfly opened its wings.”

If you find meteorology, history, natural-catastrophes, and human interest stories fascinating, “Isaac’s Storm” makes for captivating reading. I found it extremely insightful and captivating. From various weather-phenomena facts to the inception of the Weather Bureau to the 1900 hurricane that nearly wiped Galveston Texas off th
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58,003 followers
Erik Larson’s latest work of narrative nonfiction is DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF THE LUSITANIA, which became an immediate New York Times bestseller. His saga of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won an Edgar Award for fact-crime writing, and lingered on various NYT best-seller lists for the better part of a decade. Hu ...more
“Time lost can never be recovered...and this should be written in flaming letters everywhere.” 6 likes
“This is the story of Isaac and his time in America, the last turning of the centuries, when the hubris of men led them to believe they could disregard even nature itself.” 5 likes
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