Bobbi's Reviews > The Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough
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really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction

If you're ready for a book that reads like an action-packed thriller, this one's for you. In 1889 an earthen dam holding back a large lake, burst and flooded Johnstown, PA and other small towns in the valley below. The lake was made for a fishing club where wealthy people, including Andrew Carnegie, who came from nearby Pittsburgh for a quiet time in their "cottages" , three story structures oozing with money. The inhabitants of the small towns in the valley below had occasionally worried about the dam which had been repaired, obviously badly, a dozen years before. A couple of days of horrendous storms made the lake go over the top and the dam gave way, sending the entire lake down the valley with catastrophic results. The stories of the survivors are riveting, such as the man who jumped from rooftop to rooftop as they whizzed by until finding one that seemed sturdy enough to hold. I couldn't put this down. David McCullough has given us a well written page-turner that you won't soon forget.
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Reading Progress

January 17, 2010 – Shelved
June 1, 2010 – Started Reading
Finished Reading
June 4, 2010 – Shelved as: nonfiction

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria I've read this. How do you like it so far?

I was enthralled from the beginning.


Bobbi I love it and yes, I can hardly put it down. McCullough really knows how to tell a story. Have you read any of his other books?


message 3: by Maria (new)

Maria No, but this was riveting!


message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I have not read this book, but I have been to Johnstown and went to the museum there. They have a huge model which fills a room. It can be activated to show the progression of this unbelievable flood.


message 5: by Maria (last edited Jun 03, 2010 11:09PM) (new)

Maria Barbara, it was horrifying to read. The enormity of the devastation, the lives lost -- this is well-written and documented and unforgettable.


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara We saw a very well informed speaker who vividly discussed the horror. Perhaps I'll get to the book some time.


message 7: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Bobbi great review! Everytime i hear something about this flood I find it horrifying. Those poor people. Apropro of horror has anyone been to the museum of tolerance in NY (I think)? Even though I think it's an important place to go I don't think I could ever set foot in it. There was a picture 10 or 15 years ago of one of it's rooms that was filled with a pile of victim's shoes. Every time I think of that i still feel tears.

trying to be more normal I have read McCoullaugh's 'John Adams" and thought it wonderful.


Bobbi I have not been to the museum of tolerance which I just looked up. It's actually in Los Angeles. I know what you mean about not being able to look at those things. I've avoided the Holocaust Museum in Washington for that very reason. In 1968 a friend and I visited Dachau concentration camp in Germany. It has since been torn down. It was such a vivid experience made so real by being in the same room where people slept, or were killed. I'll never forget it.

I've not read John Adams but intend to.


message 9: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Bobbi wrote: "I have not been to the museum of tolerance which I just looked up. It's actually in Los Angeles. I know what you mean about not being able to look at those things. I've avoided the Holocaust Mus..."

It was the one in DC that had the shoes. I've seen signs along the freeway about the Museum of Tolerance out here but don't have the guts to go.


message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I too have been in the Holocaust Museum in DC. It is earthshaking. There are many other horrifying scenes there. I also was in the Holocaust Museum in London and Yad Vashem in Israel. All evoked tears for everyone, my husband included.


message 11: by Maria (last edited Jun 05, 2010 05:40PM) (new)

Maria Cyn (and all of you), I'm too chicken to go too, at least now; we'll see about later. I have enough trouble getting throughsome of the texts and people's memories & things. I think the museum in Nagasaki might be th3e worst one, from what I've heard. But re floods, who has read Zola's The Inundation? Whoa. A killer.


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