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The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough
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I have no idea how McCullough was able to find so much information about this incident and weave it into such an enthralling narrative, but this book is rich in detail and anecdotes that bring excitement to a depressing topic.

It is in part an age-old story of wealthy elites having little to no regard for the consequences of their extravagances. A dam was installed to create a lake that was eventually owned and maintained by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club whose members were mostly extremely rich men from the steel or railroad industries, including Andrew Carnegie. The maintenance of the dam was questionable at best, and when unusually heavy rain fell on the area, there was no way to lower the level of the water. As the water crested the top of the dam, it failed and unleashed an entire lake onto the valley down river, including Johnstown.

McCullough does a thorough job of explaining the circumstances that led to this disaster, and the horrifying minutes, days, and weeks that followed. I am not super familiar with the history of the American Red Cross, so I particularly enjoyed the parts about Clara Barton and her relatively new-formed American Red Cross coming in to help in the aftermath.
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Reading Progress

May 1, 2017 – Started Reading
May 1, 2017 – Shelved
May 8, 2017 – Finished Reading

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