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The Wake: The Deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  97 reviews
In the vein of Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm and Dead Wake comes an incredible true story of destruction and survival in Newfoundland by one of Canada’s best-known writers

On November 18, 1929, a tsunami struck Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula. Giant waves, up to three storeys high, hit the coast at a hundred kilometres per hour, flooding dozens of communities and washing entir
ebook, 387 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Special thanks to my 2019 Goodreads Secret Sender for gifting me this book. Several years ago I read The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre, so I knew that The Wake: The Deadly Legacy Of A Newfoundland Tsunami would be a good book.

I was aware that there was a tsunami in 1929, and that it severed transatlantic cables on the ocean floor. But I did not know about the devastation and loss of life it caused in Burin, Newfoundland.

"For Newfoundlanders, the first half of the twentieth century had been
✨Brithanie Faith✨
4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wake: The Deadly Legacy Of A Newfoundland Tsunami by Linden MacIntyre is an upcoming non-fiction that focuses on November 18th, 1929- the day a tsunami struck Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula- killing 28 people, and leaving hundreds more homeless or destitute.

As a Newfoundlander I was pleasantly surprised when the opportunity to read/review a book based on the history of the province I was born and raised in came up!
Jack Beaton
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Corporate greed and desperate government is a bad combination and the mining industry continues this MO, in Nova Scotia and around the world. This book tells the painful story.
But the personal touch, the Conversations with the Dead, made this book a beauty.
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
This book is devastating in so many respects. The shock of the tsunami, though tragic, has long since worn off for me - it’s a favourite among elementary kids for heritage fair projects. However, the plight of all Newfoundlanders in the years before confederation, and the uninformed attitudes of outsiders towards them, had me welling up. Then to learn of the terrible history of mining in St. Lawrence was both appalling and deeply upsetting. Such tragedy is difficult to fathom.
Orla Hegarty
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have been living in my small outport Newfoundland community since 2013. I am a Toronto transplant. I like to say the wind blew me here but that's the elevator version.

The local school in my community was demolished sometime in the late 90s or so. I have often been asked, "did I see a picture of it?" "It was beautiful." "Solid structure." "Shame it is gone." A few months ago a local older man told me with bursting pride that he was one of the first attendees at this school in the 60s and it ha
Natasha Penney
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I worked at The Southern Gazette in Marystown on the Burin Peninsula and I covered the 70th anniversary of the tsunami. This story as so familiar, and yet so in-depth even with my knowledge of the area and its history. It kept me engaged right through to the end. I appreciated the attention to the context of Newfoundland and Great Britain’s political and economic woes at the time. Greed, desperation and a perfect storm of natural and economic disasters have certainly left a lasting legacy in my ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On November 2nd, 1929 a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck deep in the water off the coast of Atlantic Canada.  While it would only shake for a few moments, the real damage would follow shortly.  A destructive tsunami would batter St. Lawrence, a small fishing village on the southwestern coast of Newfoundland.  In the end, twenty eight people would lose their lives and a town would suffer unimaginable loss.  When all was said and done, one hundred and twenty eight thousand kilos of salt cod would v ...more
❀ Susan G
It is hard to believe that tsunami in Newfoundland is a piece of history that most Canadians are not aware of. The Wake describes the terrible tsunami, which was the aftermath of an earthquake, and then reaches far beyond that fateful day when 28 individuals, many of which were children, were swept to sea along with houses, wharves, boats and their livelihoods. The fishing industry was decimated.

What happened next was worse, mining which caused a legacy of cancers and lung disease, wiping out g
Lana Shupe
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Linden MacIntyre once again proves his superior ability to provide us with excellent and well researched facts while weaving a story among the lines. I can not tell you how many times I uttered the words "I did not know" while reading this book. I can not tell you how horrible I felt at my ignorance of such a tragedy playing out during my lifetime. I kept thinking why do I know so much about the Halifax Explosion and know nothing of this story.
"The Dread" is something referred to in this book to
I gave this book 3 stars. The author brought to light an overlooked or ignored tragedy for the people of this community. The style of writing was rather like a documentary. I must confess I did not finish reading this book. I read about 80% but found it became repetitive. However it is so disappointing that the government was made aware of their problems but took years (and lives lost) to act. And then it was likely too little too late. I admire the strength of the residents and the courage of t ...more
Elizabeth Young
I love anything about Newfoundland. I love disaster books. This book has everything I love. However, I am very dispointed in the quality of the writing. I have enjoyed most of mcintyres books. But I felt as though he felt he had to pad the story with frequent repetition of incidents and reflections. There was a lot of unnecessary jumping around in time. Endless forewarnings but not getting to it. Very strange.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, canadian
Great read, although it is more about the St-Lawrence mining industry than it is about the tsunami.
Dean Jobb
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twenty-seven people who died in November 1929 when an undersea earthquake unleashed towering tsunamis on Newfoundland's isolated Burin Peninsula, shattering houses and fishing gear and wiping out livelihoods. It was the first of two disasters to befall the hardscrabble region. The other was human-made – mines established in the community of St. Lawrence to extract the mineral fluorspar, which offered jobs and hope to unemployed fishermen. Radiation and dust slowly killed hundreds of them. “It st ...more
Sarah Boon
This is a story that starts with a tsunami and ends with the death of many men from poor conditions wile mining. In between it covers the struggles of communities on the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland to make ends meet with limited jobs and resources. I thought it was a fascinating look into Newfoundland history, as I didn't realize how impoverished these communities were even into the 1960s. There was a bit too much archival detail - sometimes it read like a book of facts. But there was no den ...more
Mark Edlund
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Canadian history - OK. A story like this in the States would be at least a made for TV movie and there would be statues everywhere. Who knew there was a tsunami hitting the Newfoundland coast in 1929? I sure didn't. The story of bravery and perseverance of the survivors is amazing. And then an early "Come From Away" story where these same folks rescue American sailors as their ships sunk off the coast. At least the Americans remembered and built at hospital in St. Lawrence.
The following results
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the topic was very interesting, the author's story telling style did not jive with me at all. I found myself skipping repetitive paragraphs, and losing track of the timeline of events often. I ended up referring to online resources to get a better picture of events. Oh, and a heads up to any unassuming future reader... this book is more about politics than anything else. ...more
Noelle Walsh
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that should be mandatory reading for anyone from Newfoundland, anyone with connections to Newfoundland and history buffs in general. I for one got a much deeper understanding of the 1929 tsunami that affected the Burin Peninsula and struck so close to home. I also got an education about the aftermath, and how much it affected the people long afterward in relation to the mining that began. I felt so angry at the government and those in charge of allowing such horrible c ...more
Poor Newfoundland. This is the story of all the terrible things that can happen to people in a place with nothing. Most of this happened while Newfoundland was still struggling along on its own, and honestly, it mostly happened because of that. People with no resources in a place where the only previous resource has disappeared are desperate. And so they gamble with what they have, which is their lives.
Very engaging and sad and horrible. Good book, wretched but all-too common story.
Susan Quenneville
I gave this book the best shot I possibly could. I’m disappointed to say that apart from the first few chapters explaining the earthquake, subsequent tsunami and devastation they caused, I found the rest of Linden MacIntyre’d book long and tedious. I honestly tried but to no avail...
Jenna R
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting but repetitive.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Wake is Linden MacIntyre's very personal exploration of the 1929 Newfoundland Tsunami that destroyed a number of poor communities along the Burin Peninsula, which was followed a few years later by the opening of a few fluorspar mines around those same fragile communities.

I say personal because MacIntyre's family has a history in St. Lawrence on the Burin Peninsula and his father worked in the fluorspar mines in the 1960s. But the motivation for this book extends beyond his family connection
Tania P
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a Newfoundlander, it was heart wrenching to read of the tragedy of the tsunami being followed by the colossal greed of an outsider. His utter lack of care for the hardworking and kind hearted souls who dove into helping start up his fluorspar mine after the tsunami wiped out their families and livelihood (fishing), made my blood boil. And compounding the horrible conditions and dangers in the mines, were years of political bungling and ignorance when it came to any kind of oversight of the mi ...more
Thomas J
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess I'll give it five stars for being a Canadian story with interesting subject matter; the writing is good too, although he jumps around a bit. much to write here without retelling the whole story? The beginning was an earthquake on November 18, 1929 (3 weeks after the stock market crash, coincidentally) on the edge of the continental shelf offshore from Newfoundland. The quake caused an underwater landslide which in turn sent a tsunami straight at the Burin peninsula, ultimately k
Susan Brunner
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book’s full title is The Wake: The deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami. I have read a lot of history, but I must admit I have read little about Newfoundland. This book was an eye opener into some of the history of the Island. This is a vivid and heartbreaking story from this island. It was well written and interesting to read. Of course, like a lot of other people, I saw the play, Come from Away.

This book is about ghastly stores from Newfoundland of a tsunami, rescue at sea, and cancer
Heather Kidd
This book about the Tsunami that hits the southern coast of Newfoundland the evening of November 18, 1929 is a fascinating read at times. So much history I didn’t know. The book tells of the tragedy that massive wave brought upon poor, isolated communities and the aftereffects that were spawned. There was the start up of mining for fluorspar that the people turned to because the fish didn’t return in sufficient numbers. There was the bravery of the townspeople to save the sailors off 2 ships wre ...more
Anne Simonot
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this book struck so close to home for me. As a Newfoundlander by birth, who’s lived for 40 years on the prairies, I still have a soft spot for my beautiful home province, still miss the ocean. McIntyre’s story of the aftermath of disaster, the disappearance of the fish, the economic salvation mining seemed to represent for the south coast of the island, was really beautifully told. A difficult, hardscrabble life — no wonder the men of the Burin Peninsula were willing to work for nothing. Pro ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is so representative of the challengers facing Newfoundlanders throughout their history, although it’s specifically about the small community of St Lawrence on the Burin Peninsula. It begins with the 1929 tsunami that not only killed a number of people and washed away houses, but also seems to have been responsible for the end of fishing in the area. Looking for any source of income, the men were easy victims of an American speculator who talked them into working for free to dig a flu ...more
AmandaMagdic Magdic
I was so excited when this book finally came in from the library as I’d been on the hold list about 3 months for it. I’m usually a pretty big non fiction fan and have several slated for this year, but was really dissapointed in this book.
Telling the tale of the devastating tsunami that struck the southern coast of Newfoundland in late 1929 and the subsequent unforeseen consequences and aftermath that would change the shape of the province. From the economic insecurity due to a corrupted, affecte
Writing in the vein of Erik Larson (Dead wake, Isaac’s storm, etc) this book is a meticulously researched look at the people and economy of Newfoundland as they survive one disaster after another (a tsunami, an earthquake, the decline of the fishing industry and later the mining industry). Throughout it all the people of Newfoundland do their best in much less than ideal circumstances (so many sons and fathers died young from illnesses or accidents directly related to mining). I really enjoyed l ...more
Tony Scott
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Very well written. This story of a town close to where I grew up had lots of history that I had only known peripherally. Personally, I found the earlier portion of the book, focused on the tsunami and the ecomony of Newfoundland in the 1930s to be the most interesting part of the book; it put into perspective some of the fragments of stories and comments that I recall hearing from my grandparents when I was young and didn't know or care enough to pay real attention. That portion of the book alon ...more
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Linden MacIntyre is the co-host of the fifth estate and the winner of nine Gemini Awards for broadcast journalism. His most recent book, a boyhood memoir called Causeway: A Passage from Innocence won both the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the Evelyn Richardson Prize for Non-Fiction.

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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