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A furious sky : the five-hundred-year history of America's hurricanes

by Dolin, Eric Jay,

Format: Print Book 2020
Availability: Available at 9 Libraries 9 of 12 copies
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CLP - Homewood Non-Fiction Collection QC945.D65 2020
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Summary
Hurricanes menace North America from June through November every year, each as powerful as 10,000 nuclear bombs. These megastorms will likely become more intense as the planet continues to warm, yet we too often treat them as local disasters and TV spectacles, unaware of how far-ranging their impact can be. As best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin contends, we must look to our nation's past if we hope to comprehend the consequences of the hurricanes of the future.With A Furious Sky, Dolin has created a vivid, sprawling account of our encounters with hurricanes, from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus's New World voyages to the destruction wrought in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. Weaving a story of shipwrecks and devastated cities, of heroism and folly, Dolin introduces a rich cast of unlikely heroes, such as Benito Vines, a nineteenth-century Jesuit priest whose innovative methods for predicting hurricanes saved countless lives, and puts us in the middle of the most devastating storms of the past, none worse than the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed at least 6,000 people, the highest toll of any natural disaster in American history.Dolin draws on a vast array of sources as he melds American history, as it is usually told, with the history of hurricanes, showing how these tempests frequently helped determine the nation's course. Hurricanes, it turns out, prevented Spain from expanding its holdings in North America beyond Florida in the late 1500s, and they also played a key role in shifting the tide of the American Revolution against the British in the final stages of the conflict. As he moves through the centuries, following the rise of the United States despite the chaos caused by hurricanes, Dolin traces the corresponding development of hurricane science, from important discoveries made by Benjamin Franklin to the breakthroughs spurred by the necessities of the World War II and the Cold War.Yet after centuries of study and despite remarkable leaps in scientific knowledge and technological prowess, there are still limits on our ability to predict exactly when and where hurricanes will strike, and we remain terribly vulnerable to the greatest storms on earth. A Furious Sky is, ultimately, a story of a changing climate, and it forces us to reckon with the reality that as bad as the past has been, the future will probably be worse, unless we drastically reimagine our relationship with the planet.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Dolin (Black Flags, Blue Waters, 2018) tackles the history of hurricanes and how they've impacted the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic regions of the U.S. Spanning the centuries from Columbus arriving in the Caribbean to the recent epic and politically charged disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Maria, Dolin's weather drama reveals just how horrific these monster storms can be. But this compelling book is much more than a meteorological history, it is a remarkably human story of people struggling with nature at its fiercest and the myriad ways hurricanes have affected the course of human events. The damaging winds and surging water likely changed the outcome of wars and presidential elections. Many of those true tales of survival and loss will tug at the readers' heartstrings as Dolin makes them vivid and memorable. He also chronicles the intellectual history of individual meteorologists on quests to understand the dynamics, predict the patterns, and mitigate the damage of hurricanes. Dolin illuminates how much technology and careful scientific and civic organization and coordination have helped better prepare Americans for hurricane season. But, despite radar and satellites, the paths of these ferocious storms can never be fully predicted and Dolin presents the consensus view that global warming will only make hurricanes stronger in the future."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Historian Dolin (Black Flags, Blue Waters) delivers a fast-paced and informative history of American hurricanes from the 16th century through the 2017 season, when a record-setting three storms made landfall. Though Dolin's question of "how we can learn to survive and adapt" to hurricanes in the era of climate change doesn't receive deep analysis, the book successfully documents the impact of storms such as the 1900 Galveston Hurricane (in which an estimated 8,000--10,000 people died) and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, which killed hundreds of WWI veterans building the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. Milestones in the scientific understanding of hurricanes include Father Benito ViƱes's observational studies in 19th-century Cuba and the U.S. military's "Hurricane Hunter" flights, which began in WWII and employed new radar technology to capture real-time data from inside storms; the information was eventually used to create computer models to predict hurricane behavior. Dolin also explains hurricane naming conventions and credits Dan Rather's 1961 Hurricane Carla broadcasts, which showed radar images of the storm, with changing how they're reported. Packed with intriguing miscellanea, this accessible chronicle serves as a worthy introduction to the subject. Readers will be awed by the power of these storms and the wherewithal of people to recover from them. Agent: Russell Galen, The Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (June)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Hurricanes -- United States -- History.
Storms -- United States -- History.
Publisher New York, NY :2020
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xxvii, 392 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-373) and index.
ISBN 9781631495274
1631495275
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