Eric Rasmussen's Reviews > Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt

Hot Time in the Old Town by Edward P. Kohn
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's review
Aug 18, 2010

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Read from September 30 to October 12, 2010

I love a good piece of disaster non-fiction. Unfortunately, this was only one third disaster non-fiction. The majority of this book is about Teddy Roosevelt and the presidential campaign between William Jennings Bryan and McKinley. For history buffs, no doubt, a pretty exciting campaign. For me, it all seemed pretty run of the mill. It also didn't help that I don't fully understand the major issue of the day, switching from the gold standard.

But all of this is quite beside the point, because what I was interested in was the heat wave, how it happened, how it affected people, both victims and survivors, but that was such a small portion of this book. It also only focuses on the heat wave of New York, when the wave affected the whole country. Also, I would have appreciated a little more context as to history, meteorology, and culture of extreme heat. None of that either.

A fine book, just not what I wanted. I wanted a book about the big deadly, heat wave that would leave me with a better understanding of all facets of that particular phenomenon (like what Children's Blizzard did for blizzards). This book was more of a moment in time heat plus politics.

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