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A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes

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With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes. 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 t With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes. 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. 103 black-and-white illustrations; 8 pages of color illustrations


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With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes. 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 t With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes. 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. 103 black-and-white illustrations; 8 pages of color illustrations

30 review for A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "The [vicious] cycle continues. Every year, a new hurricane season unfolds with the potential to break records, be average or be relatively quiet. But no matter what an individual hurricane season brings, over time one thing is certain: the United States will continue to be pummeled by these tremendous storms . . . " -- from the author's epilogue, on page 299 Although tagged with a daunting subtitle indicating a whopping five hundred (!) years of weather events, A Furious Sky is a little more str "The [vicious] cycle continues. Every year, a new hurricane season unfolds with the potential to break records, be average or be relatively quiet. But no matter what an individual hurricane season brings, over time one thing is certain: the United States will continue to be pummeled by these tremendous storms . . . " -- from the author's epilogue, on page 299 Although tagged with a daunting subtitle indicating a whopping five hundred (!) years of weather events, A Furious Sky is a little more streamlined than that, with nearly three-quarters of the text focusing on events and advancements that have occurred since the dawn of the 20th century. (And with the Galveston Hurricane devastating the Texas coast in September 1900 - still ranked as our country's worst natural disaster by death toll, with 8000+ fatalities - it truly was an ominous start to said century.) Understandably, the author can't really discuss absolutely EVERY hurricane that has struck the U.S. eastern seaboard, but he delves into some of the more noteworthy ones, including the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 (*storms weren't tagged with human monikers until the mid-50's), Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992, Katrina in 2005, and Sandy in 2012. He also details the science behind the storms, some of the early researchers from the 18th and 19th centuries - lots of disagreements and in-fighting among educated men - as well as the increased military involvement in the 1940's / 50's with the advent of radar usage and the brave crews of the 'hurricane hunter' aircraft, plus a few frightening survivor stories from various incidents. Some of the politically-oriented parts were a bit of a slog in the final chapters, but this was otherwise a very good non-fiction work with its combination of meteorology and history.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    4.5 rounded up full post here http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... As someone living in South Florida, about a third of a mile as the crow flies from the coast, reading this book during a very active hurricane season may not have been the brightest idea in terms of mental health. I needn't have worried: it was so well done that I found myself completely engrossed almost immediately. As it turns out, all is not doom and gloom here -- as the dustjacket blurb reveals, it is a melding of "American h 4.5 rounded up full post here http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... As someone living in South Florida, about a third of a mile as the crow flies from the coast, reading this book during a very active hurricane season may not have been the brightest idea in terms of mental health. I needn't have worried: it was so well done that I found myself completely engrossed almost immediately. As it turns out, all is not doom and gloom here -- as the dustjacket blurb reveals, it is a melding of "American history, as it is usually told, with the history of hurricanes, showing how these tempests frequently helped determine the nation's course." It is also one of the most compelling and seriously educational nonfiction books of my reading year so far, combining history, personal accounts, the science of meteorology, the growth of forecasting/prediction technologies, politics, and a look at the very real hazards of climate change, which has the potential to bring ever more powerful storms into our lives. It's tough to do a broad history like this one, but Mr. Dolin's done a fine job here and the book makes for great reading even for people like me who aren't particularly gifted in the realm of science. Very highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I found Dolin's history of hurricanes to be page-turning, fascinating, educating, and entertaining. What especially intrigued me were the historical accounts of the evolution of weather science and the recounting of truly hair-raising and sometimes tragic events of real people during hurricane disasters. Dolin is an award-winning writer and it shows. This is not just about hurricanes, it is about the history of the United States through its weather disasters and the effects they have on families I found Dolin's history of hurricanes to be page-turning, fascinating, educating, and entertaining. What especially intrigued me were the historical accounts of the evolution of weather science and the recounting of truly hair-raising and sometimes tragic events of real people during hurricane disasters. Dolin is an award-winning writer and it shows. This is not just about hurricanes, it is about the history of the United States through its weather disasters and the effects they have on families, community, and country. From Shakespeare, to Ben Franklin, to Clara Barton, to Roosevelt, learn how these legendary figures had an influence on weather history and its aftermath. I even learned that there are forensic hurricanologists! Dolin is also honest and thorough in touching on veteran's rights and the racial inequities that grow greater during disasters, such as African Americans held at gunpoint in the south to clean up the dead. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, weather, and climate change. There is a reason it landed on these lists: The Washington Post -- One of 50 Notable works of Nonfiction for 2020 Library Journal -- One of the Best Science & Technology Books of 2020 ​ Kirkus Reviews -- One of the top 100 nonfiction books of 2020 ​ Booklist -- 10 Top Sci-Tech Books of 2020 ​ Amazon.com -- One of the Best Science Books of 2020

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    Read through page 47, plus the lengthy introduction. Dull storytelling, and the bare facts too basic to make up for it. Portrayal of early American history awfully white-people-centric.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    A really excellent broad history with deep dives that keep the narrative rooted in humanity.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    A well written history of hurricanes in the Americas. Highly recommended if you are interested in the topic. I personally am interested in the power of mother nature, and live in South Carolina which is in “Hurricane Alley”. As a result of reading this, I am better informed and in the process of developing a hurricane plan.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Josh Liller

    I have definitely become a fan of Eric Jay Dolin's work, having started with Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse. As a Southeast Florida resident for most of my life, hurricanes are certainly a subject of interest to me. During the last six years I have read Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown, and Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise I have definitely become a fan of Eric Jay Dolin's work, having started with Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse. As a Southeast Florida resident for most of my life, hurricanes are certainly a subject of interest to me. During the last six years I have read Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown, and Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, and two famous novels that include the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane as a major event (A Land Remembered and Their Eyes Were Watching God). This book is just over 300 pages of main text. The first three chapters cover a hurricane Columbus encountered one of his voyages through some notable Colonial Era storms through the 19th century. Along the way, Dolin traces the study of tropical cyclones. The next three chapters look at some of the more famous major hurricanes of the 1900-1940 era: the 1900 Galveston Hurricane; the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane, 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, and 1935 Labor Day Hurricane of the Florida Keys; and the 1938 Great New England Hurricane of 1938. The latter storm seems to be a particular fascination of Dolin's as Brilliant Beacons spends an entire chapter on the hurricane's impact on the Lighthouse Service. Chapter 7 looks at the extensive advances in hurricane study, tracking, and forecasting from World World II to today - particularly Hurricane Hunter aircraft, Doppler radar, satellites, and computer modeling. Chapter 8 hits the highlights of major hurricanes from the 1950s through 2017 including Camille, Andrew, and Katrina. An Epilogue briefly discusses Global Warming and its impact on hurricanes (something sure to rankle certain folks). My favorite parts were about the history of hurricane meteorology. As someone who, by age and geographic location, didn't have to worry about hurricanes until the 1990s, the degree to which hurricanes can be tracked is so far advance in my time than it was in the mid-20th century, much less farther into the past. The pre-modern storms were also particularly interesting since I was unfamiliar with that era. The coverage of 20th and 21st century hurricanes is fine. Dolin's writing is up to its usual standards, making this book a breeze to read. However, as someone who has previously read about those storms there didn't really seem to be anything new to say on the subject. If you've read Isaac's Storm, you're probably not missing anything if you skipped that chapter. On the other hand, getting the latest synopses on Camille, Katrina, and Sandy was interesting. The more abbreviated treatment of post-WW2 storms feels a little spotty. Dolin is upfront at the beginning of the book that he can't cover every major storm. Still, I think this book would have been well-served with another hundred pages. Donna, Hugo, and especially the 2004 season (four hurricanes hit Florida) were notable exclusions. North Carolina, whose Outer Banks get a lot of hurricane and tropical storm impacts, seemed almost completely excluded. Dolin seems most fascinated by the outlier hurricanes that have impacted his home region of New England. Overall, this is a very good book, especially if you've never read a book about hurricanes before. Strong recommendation to a general audience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    I started reading this book on the history of hurricanes on a day before a hurricane was supposed to hit my area, it did not hit us bad, but the history of hurricanes kept my interest, now that I am finished we are seeing the potential for a really bad time in 5 days as 2 Tropical Storms will be hitting the gulf at the same time, on 8/25 potentially becoming historic as well. The History of Hurricanes is fascinating and Dolin keeps the interest by making the stories easy to read and fascinating. I started reading this book on the history of hurricanes on a day before a hurricane was supposed to hit my area, it did not hit us bad, but the history of hurricanes kept my interest, now that I am finished we are seeing the potential for a really bad time in 5 days as 2 Tropical Storms will be hitting the gulf at the same time, on 8/25 potentially becoming historic as well. The History of Hurricanes is fascinating and Dolin keeps the interest by making the stories easy to read and fascinating. Going as far back as Christopher Columbus’ experience to an afterword about Dorian that hit in 2019. Dolin covers a huge amount of stories some of which I did not know about. He also has an informative chapter on how the different ways we use to investigate hurricanes came together be and a chapter about the Rogue storms that have hit us for the past 40 years, finally a word about climate change and how it could affect hurricanes in the future. A very informative and current history of hurricanes that is informative and easy to understand. Highly recommended!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Hopewell

    The Story Starting back in the days of Christopher Columbus, and going all the way to today, Dolin goes into the full story of each of the legendary hurricanes to hit the USA and close islands. I was especially interested in the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 which killed so many of the so-called Bonus Marchers who’d living in camps in the Florida Keys. I first learned of this hurricane in Chanel Cleeton’s novel. The Last Train to Key West, which takes the reader inside the hurricane in vivid detail The Story Starting back in the days of Christopher Columbus, and going all the way to today, Dolin goes into the full story of each of the legendary hurricanes to hit the USA and close islands. I was especially interested in the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 which killed so many of the so-called Bonus Marchers who’d living in camps in the Florida Keys. I first learned of this hurricane in Chanel Cleeton’s novel. The Last Train to Key West, which takes the reader inside the hurricane in vivid detail. Dolin does this hurricane real justice. I especially enjoyed hearing about Ernest Hemingway’s efforts to help after the storm. Many of the others hurricanes I already knew about, including the 1938 hurricane that took actress Katherine Hepburn’s family home (which she talks about in her book Me). I have not yet read Douglas Brinkley’s magnum opus on hurricane Katrina, but did read Five Days at Memorial. Katrina, to me, is the most interesting due to all the failures that attended it. The human cost was so much worse than it needed to be. The politics of disaster relief–shown up so brilliantly by Chef Jose Anders in his book, We Fed an Island about 2017’s hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico–a part of American the then President of the United States treated as not part of the country. The politics of disaster are one of the most interesting ways to see the truth of human nature revealed. 121030042324-bounty-uscg-story-tablet The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, is shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Of the 16-person crew, the Coast Guard rescued 14, recovered a woman and is searching for the captain of the vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tim Kuklewski. Aggravating, too, are the decisions some people make to ignore the warnings. While I admit to staying put on the 19th floor to watch the tornado that hit downtown Indianapolis many years ago, rightly figuring that getting down all those stairs would take longer than the storm, a hurricane warning or an evacuation order should not be ignored. Arrogance is costly–ask the Captain of the tall ship HMS Bounty which sank when he foolishly tried to sail it Florida to wait out Hurricane Sandy in 2012 killing the captain and one member of his small crew. Some of the stories of entire families lost were heartbreaking–a father of 15 living but loosing nearly all of his family. A mother surviving after her two boys were swept away but then no one would help her apparently because she was black and the storm had put her into an all-white neighborhood. I also knew a lot about the development of the National Weather Service and its forerunners, especially from Melanie Benjamin’s novel the The Children’s Blizzard and the nonfiction book The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin. Both of those educated me very well. In spite of knowing a lot due to my interest in weather, I still found new pieces of information and new perspectives. The information on how they began to model storms was very interesting. My endless bragging about what I knew is to show not that I’m a hurricane freak, but that I knew all of this and still found this book engrossing. My Thoughts I wish I’d taken time to read this in print. The reader on the audio was THAT bad. He was nearly monotone. His performance made an excellent book almost soul-crushing in chapters 1 and 2. The prose is very well written, the story is told in an interesting fashion, but the reader killed it. If he gets nominated for an award a hurricane may hit the award! My Verdict 4.0 for the book, not the audio

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mickey Mantle

    Meteorology and Hurricanes 101 for the beginner! An easy read and very informing work on Hurricanes and their history. Government ineptitude is highlighted!! The danger is REAL This is highly informative and written in the perfect style. The human element is featured. Science is presented in an understandable way.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Younkin

    Even if you’ve never had the experience of hunkering down during a hurricane or witnessing the aftermath directly, you’ll be riveted by this book by Eric Jay Dolin. The author has compiled numerous stories and histories of some of America’s worst storms from the 1500s all the way to 2017 when three storms, Harvey, Irma, and Maria ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He has also dedicated chapters to the history of forecasting hurricanes and some of the pioneers in meteorology. Dolin provide Even if you’ve never had the experience of hunkering down during a hurricane or witnessing the aftermath directly, you’ll be riveted by this book by Eric Jay Dolin. The author has compiled numerous stories and histories of some of America’s worst storms from the 1500s all the way to 2017 when three storms, Harvey, Irma, and Maria ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He has also dedicated chapters to the history of forecasting hurricanes and some of the pioneers in meteorology. Dolin provides much more than a history lesson. He covers the drama surrounding the men who advanced knowledge in the study of hurricanes. For instance, James Espy and William Redfield were contemporaries and bitter rivals in the early 1800s. Both had theories about how hurricanes formed and moved, and each was convinced he was right. Espy had the idea that hurricanes were propelled by air being heated by warm ocean water pulling in more air behind it. He was also sure that the winds moved in a straight front. He was opposed to Redfield’s proposal that the storms moved in a circle around a center axis. They were at the forefront of an “American Storm Controversy” fueled by newspapers. A public contentious battle was fought between the two. Both men died believing they were right, never knowing that they each only had part of the story. Espy understood how storms formed and Redfield got that they moved around a central axis. Then there’s the Jesuit priest and self-taught meteorologist, Father Benito Vines. Through his study of the storms, he predicted hurricanes in Cuba with remarkable accuracy for the 1870s. He instituted a strict program of collecting data gathering temperature reading, pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, and the type of clouds observed. He also collected data from ships as they arrived in Havana. His observations allowed him to make remarkably accurate predictions as other meteorologists were scrambling to understand when and where storms would hit. Dolin presents the advances in technology that made forecasting more reliable. From the invention of the telegraph, all the way to weather satellites, and the Hurricane Hunter planes that fly into the eye of storms he recounts the scientific achievements that have improved forecasting and undoubtedly saved countless lives. The scope of this book is impressive, but the individual stories of those who rode out the storms, what they endured, and how they survived were what moved me the most. This is a book for those who have an interest in history, hurricanes, and survival stories. I have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    If you enjoyed 'Isaac's Storm' you will love this book! If you enjoyed 'Isaac's Storm' you will love this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I had looked forward to reading this book for a long time, but the truth is that, for me at least, it was a disappointment. I'm very interested in hurricanes as I live in an area where hurricanes love to hang out, so I've read lots and lots of articles and books about hurricanes. This book covered all the expected ground---how hurricanes form, the history of forecasting hurricanes, the most famous hurricanes---but all the information felt like information better covered in other books and the bo I had looked forward to reading this book for a long time, but the truth is that, for me at least, it was a disappointment. I'm very interested in hurricanes as I live in an area where hurricanes love to hang out, so I've read lots and lots of articles and books about hurricanes. This book covered all the expected ground---how hurricanes form, the history of forecasting hurricanes, the most famous hurricanes---but all the information felt like information better covered in other books and the book didn't have that zing of storytelling delight that I enjoy in good nonfiction. The technical information on hurricanes and the history of hurricane forecasting were two parts of the book I was least interested in, and these seemed to be about half of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim Martin

    Very well-written and highly readable popular account of the history and science of hurricanes. Nicely done, with a good narrative structure, lots of facts, not the least bit dry, the author providing a lot of great information as well as demonstrating some real skill at humanizing the suffering caused by hurricanes along with conveying a very gripping and exciting account of a number of storms. Packed with lots of black and white photos and illustrations throughout the book, it was a really goo Very well-written and highly readable popular account of the history and science of hurricanes. Nicely done, with a good narrative structure, lots of facts, not the least bit dry, the author providing a lot of great information as well as demonstrating some real skill at humanizing the suffering caused by hurricanes along with conveying a very gripping and exciting account of a number of storms. Packed with lots of black and white photos and illustrations throughout the book, it was a really good read. This really is a history of hurricanes in North America, from the time of Columbus to as recently as hurricane Michael in October 2018 and Dorian in September 2019. Though by no means does it cover every hurricane (and I would think not only would few readers expect that, but few readers would want that either), author Eric Jay Dolin highlights major or otherwise important hurricanes (and tropical storms) from the time of Christopher Columbus to very nearly the present day. In addition to sometimes exciting, page-turning reading about various storms, from when they were first noticed as threat all the way through responses to the aftermath, the author along the way discussed advances in hurricane forecasting and how policy changed as a result of particular hurricanes, the prediction of them (or failure to predict), and the response to rescuing people and cleanup after the hurricane had passed through. There is an introduction which begins the book, in which a number of basic facts and terms relating to hurricanes are introduced and the author sets the stage, writing that hurricanes “are – have always been – an integral, inevitable, and painful part of the American experience.” A good introduction to how hurricanes form, what makes a hurricane a hurricane, and the etymology of the word hurricane itself (it seems to come from one of the languages spoken by Native Americans in the Caribbean, possibly Maya, Quiche, Arawak, and/or Taino). Chapter 1, “A New and Violent World,” talked about the first European encounters with hurricanes in the waters and land of North America and the Caribbean. Topics covered included Columbus’ encounter with (and prediction of) a hurricane, a 1559 hurricane that struck a not quite yet founded Spanish colony in Pensacola Bay (possibly changing history), a 1565 hurricane that may have ended French ambitions in Florida, and a July 1609 hurricane that had vast importance to the history of Jamestown (indeed its very survival), the British colonizing Bermuda, and even inspired William Shakespeare when writing _The Tempest_. Chapter 2, “The Law of Storms,” marked the beginnings of serious scientific inquires into hurricanes (with John Winthrop, who was the first person to measure the barometric pressure of a hurricane, and Benjamin Franklin, “the first person to realize that hurricanes had forward movement, and that a hurricane’s winds could blow contrary to the direction in which it was moving” as well as coverage of four other individuals – William C. Redfield, James P. Espy, Colonel William Reid, and Henry Piddington – who all made major contributions to hurricane science and were fascinating to read about). Also covered are two hurricanes that slammed into the Caribbean in October 1780, which taken together had a “decisive impact” on the American Revolution, chiefly with regards to France aiding the United States in the American Revolutionary War. Chapter 3, “Seeing Into the Future,” continued the really interesting story of the history of hurricane science, with meteorology finally starting to “achieve its potential” thanks to the “ability to share…observations in real time” that allowed meteorologists to “track the weather and make predictions about the future,” thanks to the invention of the telegraph. The chapter included a fascinating section on Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the early use of the telegraph to relay and receive weather data, on Joseph Henry (first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, “who saw in the telegraph much promise for weather forecasting and meteorological science”), the years when the U.S Army Signal Corps essentially ran meteorology in the United States, issuing the first weather maps and the first storm warnings (initially, in 1876, forecasts were called probabilities, then indications, only becoming forecasts in 1889). I also enjoyed reading about Cuban hurricane scientist, Father Benito Vines. Exciting but sad to read about two storms that left “in their wake a horrific trail of devastation”, “The Midnight Storm” that struck the New York City area around midnight on Wednesday, August 23, 1893 and one that roared ashore on Sunday, August 27 just a few days later, devastating South Carolina and Georgia, killing possibly as many as 5,000 people mainly in the Sea Islands (and came to be called the Sea Islands Hurricane), a catastrophe that exposed “the absence of any national machinery for responding to a calamity” and the first time the Red Cross got involved in disaster relief for major hurricanes, though previously the Red Cross had for instance aided during the Johnstown Flood in 1889). Chapter 4, “Obliterated,” was on the infamous Galveston Hurricane of 1900, “the deadliest natural disaster in American history” and “the storm against which all others are measured,” as the storm destroyed more than 3,500 homes, sank hundreds of vessels, and killed at least 6,000 people. An epic read about the history and geography of Galveston, why storm predictions failed, why so many people died, the gripping story of people in the storm, and the horror and misery of life in the ruins (with a number of photos). Obligatory recommendation of _Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History_ by Erik Larson Chapter 5, “Death and Destruction in the Sunshine State,” continued the story of advances in hurricane science, noting that the “first three and a half decades of the twentieth century were a period of relative stasis for hurricane forecasting in the United States, as a result of bureaucratic, budgetary, scientific, and data limitations” though the advent of wireless telegraphy (i.e. radio) provide to be mixed blessing (with mariners able to chart a path around storms or decide to stay in port, but also meaning fewer and fewer vessels were now anywhere near a hurricane as a result and thus meteorologists had a lot less information to work with). Lots of great coverage of various Florida hurricanes, including the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, the really sad stories surrounding the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 (with racism marring a lot of warning and relief efforts, something that also happened in the Sea Islands Hurricane), and the absolutely gripping story of the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 which devastated the Florida Keys, a tale that also involved Ernest Hemingway (which if the reader is interested in, I highly recommend _Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean_ by Les Standiford). Chapter 6, “The Great Hurricane of 1938,” was on that very subject, a hurricane that made landfall on Long Island on September 21 (and sometimes called “The Long Island Express”). A very dramatic chapter, with debates on the forecast track of the hurricane, how the power of the hurricane was seriously misforecast (predicted to be a gale, not a hurricane), and gripping tales of survival in the hurricane, including one involving Katharine Hepburn. Chapter 7, “Into, Over, and Under the Maelstrom,” detailed amazing technological advances in tracking hurricanes, collecting data about them, and forecasting them starting in World War II with the first (unauthorized) prototype of Hurricane Hunter flights directly into a hurricane as well as the advent of weather satellites and computer modeling. Lots of great information in this chapter including some great reading on Hurricane Hunter flights, the origins of the cone of uncertainty in hurricane forecasting, the origins of an agreed upon international naming system for hurricanes, the successful efforts lead by among others Roxy Bolton to get male names into circulation for hurricane names rather than just female names, and the origins of giving hurricane categories (thanks the works of engineer Herbert S. Saffir and meteorologist Dr. Robert Homer Simpson, usually called just Robert Simpson, giving us the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with its categories 1 through 5). Also the chapter notes how hurricane coverage by Dan Rather propelled him into the national spotlight with his coverage of Hurricane Carla, which struck Texas in 1961. Chapter 8, “Rogue’s Gallery,” is divided into sections and is about various hurricanes after World War II. Included are the hurricanes of 1954 and 1955 (among them Hurricane Carol, which destroyed the iconic steeple on the Old North Church in Boston, which was actually the second steeple, itself erected after the original 1740 steeple was toppled by the Great Gale of Boston in October 1804), Camille in 1969 (with not only gripping stories of those who survived the hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi but also later hurricane-related flooding in Virginia), Andrew (which struck Miami-Dade County in 1992, which made one in ten people homeless and the “working-class city of Homestead, population 26,000, was nearly wiped clean off the face of the Earth”), Iniki (which hit Kauai in 1992, an “extremely rare” event as prior to that, only two hurricanes had hit Hawaii since 1871, with the author going into why that is as well as noting the _Jurassic Park_ connections to Iniki), Katrina in 2005 (“the most expensive hurricane ever to strike the United States,” caused upwards of 1,800 deaths, the author noting that covering the storm “is not a Herculean task but rather an impossible one” in part of a single chapter, as “it is arguably the most complicated and controversial natural and human-made disaster in American history,” with the author recommending the more than 700 page book _The Great Deluge_ by Douglas Brinkley on the subject), Sandy in 2012 (which caused lots of damage and deaths in New York City and New Jersey and was the storm in which the 1960 tall ship _HMS Bounty II_ sank at sea and its crew had to be rescued, with the story of that vessel covered at length), and three significant hurricanes of 2017, Harvey (which dumped more than 50 inches of rain on Houston within 48 hours), Irma (which as a Category 5 hit the U.S. Virgin Islands on September 6 and lead to in Florida “the largest mass exodus in American history”), and Maria (which hit Puerto Rico on September 20 as a Category 4 hurricane, a storm that “damaged or obliterated virtually every human-made structure outside the capital of San Juan and many within the city’s limits, leveled 80 percent of the crops, and knocked out power to the entire island,” a storm that like Katrina continued to cause suffering long after the storm had dissipated owing to government ineptitude in relief and recovery efforts). The epilogue, “Stormy Weather Ahead,” briefly notes Hurricane Michael (which as a Category 5 hit the Florida Panhandle on October 10, 2018, “killing seventy-two and causing $25 billion in damage”) and noted challenges in hurricane forecasting, hurricane preparedness, and the links between global warming, climate change, and hurricane strength and speed, with increasingly hurricanes lingering longer, subjecting an area to high winds for a longer period of time and longer significant period of rain. The book closes with end notes, a select bibliography, and an index. Illustrations throughout the book. Overall this is great popular science and popular history writing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: I loved everything about this one, which was informative, well written, and fun to read. This is one of those books where the cover designer just gets me. At first sight, I knew this history of hurricanes in the US was going to be my type of narrative nonfiction. And I'm happy to say that I was right! I'm also reading this book because it was nominated for the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. It seems like the goal of this prize is to pick the subjectively best nonfiction book awarded a Kirk Summary: I loved everything about this one, which was informative, well written, and fun to read. This is one of those books where the cover designer just gets me. At first sight, I knew this history of hurricanes in the US was going to be my type of narrative nonfiction. And I'm happy to say that I was right! I'm also reading this book because it was nominated for the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. It seems like the goal of this prize is to pick the subjectively best nonfiction book awarded a Kirkus star during the year. Under that criteria, I think this first book I've read from the shortlist is a strong contender. Now, let me count the ways I loved this book. 1. Big Picture + Personal Stories Many of my favorite nonfiction reads combine big picture world events with intimate personal stories. In this book, that's done very well. The story first moves chronologically through a series of hurricanes, showing how they influenced American history. Cultural and scientific developments that changed how we understand and predict hurricanes were also covered. Sometimes these stories required a significant digression from talking about hurricanes. I never minded, because the side stories were so good and always paid off in a better understanding of hurricanes and their history. Along side these bigger picture elements, the author shared gripping stories of people caught up in or trying to predict hurricanes. 2. Organization The first section of this book, which chronologically covers fewer than a dozen major hurricanes, clearly establishes the bigger picture story of hurricanes in the US. When I finished reading this section, I knew some of the major intersections between hurricane history and key moments in American history. I also understood how our ability to predict hurricanes has changed over time. This section was clear and easy to follow. Examples kept it exciting, but didn't bog it down. Some major hurricanes were left out entirely though. Their stories were instead included in a series of essays in the last chapter. They all made for compelling reading, so I was glad they were covered. However, I think the decision not to include them earlier was the right choice, improving clarity and flow. 3. Well Written Of course a book has to be well written for me to really love it. The author did a great job incorporating first person quotes and paraphrases. Moving stories ranging from the tragic to the humorous were brought to life in vivid detail. There was also some care taken in identifying examples of racism. When responses to hurricanes were either definitely or potentially influenced by racism, the author clearly notes this. There are a few spots where I thought there was room for improvement, such as where the author seems to accept Clara Barton's assertion that the black Gullah people required aid as an incentive to rebuild. Overall though, I thought racism was handled well here. 4. Fun + Learning Overall, this book was both informative and a pleasure to read. I can't ask for more from a work of nonfiction! Fortunately, the other books on the Kirkus shortlist are also ones that I've heard great things about. This is going to be a tough competition!This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  16. 5 out of 5

    William B

    Third time is the triumph for author Eric Jay Dolin! After reading his previous works (Brilliant Beacons and Black Flags, Blue Waters), and enjoying both of those books I might add, I couldn’t wait to see what other historical theme Dolin was going to dole out (no pun intended) in the near future. I became ecstatic, when in April 2020, I found out that Dolin indeed was ready to release a new book in August, and the topic of his new book was going to be about the history of America’s hurricanes. Third time is the triumph for author Eric Jay Dolin! After reading his previous works (Brilliant Beacons and Black Flags, Blue Waters), and enjoying both of those books I might add, I couldn’t wait to see what other historical theme Dolin was going to dole out (no pun intended) in the near future. I became ecstatic, when in April 2020, I found out that Dolin indeed was ready to release a new book in August, and the topic of his new book was going to be about the history of America’s hurricanes. I was hooked! Dolin chronologically explains the history of hurricanes, from Christopher Columbus’s near misses with these monstrous storms to the record-breaking 2017 hurricane season where Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria became the trio of destruction that smashed records. With that said, one of my favorite chapters in the book, Chapter 6 “The Great Hurricane of 1938”, not only informed me, but left me in a state of shock when learning of what happened when that great storm hit New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Some of the stories from the victims, including a personal account from the actress Katherine Hepburn, who was affected by the storm when it hit her summer home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, were shocking, dramatic, heartbreaking and even oddly humorous at times. Hurricanes are terrifying and it’s mother nature’s fury unleashed. Among the stories told, I learned more about the “Great Miami Hurricane of 1926” that left Miami in shambles and I also learned details about the “Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928” which devastated West Palm Beach and Belle Glade. Some of the other stories, such as the “Galveston Hurricane of 1900” and “The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935”, I was already familiar with, but I didn’t mind reading about them again. The contemporary hurricanes that really creeped me out were Hurricanes Camille, Andrew, Katrina, Sandy and Irma. Dolin breaks down the information we need to know about these monsters in Chapter 8 “A Rogues Gallery”. Just one little critique I do have to give to the author is that he made two slight mistakes in the text that I hope will be corrected in the near future. 1) In p. 130, he misspelled the name of a town that was affected by the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 as “Port Macaya”. The town is actually called Port Mayaca. 2) In p. 258, when the section on Hurricane Katrina is about to begin, the author wrote the date of Katrina’s landfall in South Florida as “August 24, 1992”. That year is wrong, because it landed in South Florida in the year 2005. Albeit with those two corrections, “A Furious Sky” is an informative, dramatic, historical view of hurricanes that have impacted and will continue to impact America and it’s southern neighbors of Central America and the Caribbean. I recommend everyone to read this book because it will humble you and make you realize that mother nature needs to be taken care of and respected. If you don’t take care of Mother Earth, she will get angry and you will not like what she has in store 🌫.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Reading books for knowledge? Look at me go. This was fascinating. I learned a lot about facets of history I hadn’t thought of before. Interesting also to see how many times US history was influenced by hurricanes. He delivered the information in a way that kept me engaged, was funny at times, but was also capable of communicating just how devastating a lot of the stories being relayed actually were. As a certified weather nerd I really enjoyed the chapter where he went into detail about the adva Reading books for knowledge? Look at me go. This was fascinating. I learned a lot about facets of history I hadn’t thought of before. Interesting also to see how many times US history was influenced by hurricanes. He delivered the information in a way that kept me engaged, was funny at times, but was also capable of communicating just how devastating a lot of the stories being relayed actually were. As a certified weather nerd I really enjoyed the chapter where he went into detail about the advancements being made in hurricane forecasting. Especially as he got into the more modern hurricanes that I remember seeing on the news it really had me looking at them from a new perspective. Katrina and Sandy especially. I mean, how much of the damage was caused as a result of people not wanting to prepare for the worst? Also, the way so many common threads ran between survival stories from ALL periods of American history was fascinating. Weather you lived in 1800 or 2012, riding a floating roof was the way you were going to make it out alive. Yeah, I liked this. Really interesting, great writing, and gave me my a background on hurricanes with respect to impact now that I live somewhere I have to worry about it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Devlin

    Reaches a bit to try to make the American hurricanes have political impact and the book can get tedious with the effects of hurricane after hurricane. But if you like books on Herculean weather events this book supplies you the fix you need.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Vallar

    What is a hurricane? A picture immediately forms in your mind, especially if you’ve experienced even just the peripheral fury of such a storm. Moist, warm air. Swirling, violent wind. Torrential downpours. Colossal waves. Swells of flood water. A tranquil eye that belies even greater devastation as the storm passes over. Yet, as with many questions, there is no simple answer, and the power of even just an average hurricane unleashes the same energy as 10,000 nuclear bombs. Within the pages of A What is a hurricane? A picture immediately forms in your mind, especially if you’ve experienced even just the peripheral fury of such a storm. Moist, warm air. Swirling, violent wind. Torrential downpours. Colossal waves. Swells of flood water. A tranquil eye that belies even greater devastation as the storm passes over. Yet, as with many questions, there is no simple answer, and the power of even just an average hurricane unleashes the same energy as 10,000 nuclear bombs. Within the pages of A Furious Sky, Dolin not only tackles the answer to this question, but also discusses the evolution of these storms and our ability to monitor and forecast them. At the same time, he takes us on a gut-wrenching journey through five centuries of history to experience hurricanes that have struck America and to meet individuals who experienced the devastating wrath of Mother Nature. Dolin focuses on three aspects of hurricanes in this book: the storm as it approaches and makes landfall, its impact on individuals and places, and the response of people and government immediately after it passes. The story opens on 26 June 1957, just before Audrey came ashore in Louisiana. Her sustained winds were 145 miles an hour. She brought with her a storm surge of twelve feet and waves as high as fifteen feet. She took the lives of about 500 people, left 5,000 others homeless, and tore apart almost every building in Cameron Parish, resulting in losses of between $150,000,000 and $200,000,000. To create a more poignant account than just a recitation of facts, Dolin introduces us to specific people whose lives are forever changed. In this case, Dr. Cecil and Sybil Clark. By doing so, we experience viscerally their harrowing ordeal and the tragic events that unfold. While this is not a comprehensive account of every hurricane to strike America, Dolin does a commendable job choosing those of particular interest to many of us. The earliest storms have neither names nor scale ratings, but they are significant nonetheless. Among these are the 1609 hurricane that is believed to have been the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; the dire experience of two men during the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, one whose family would play leading roles in New England religion and politics; and the hurricane that destroyed Spain’s Treasure Fleet of 1715, which influenced piratical history during what has become known as the golden age of piracy. Among the many other hurricanes explored in this book are the Galveston Hurricane of 1900; the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935; Hugo; Isabel; Carol, Edna, Hazel, and Connie – the first storms to have their names retired; Camille; Andrew; Iniki; Katrina; Sandy; and from the “season that wouldn’t quit,” Harvey, Irma, and Maria. A New and Violent World; The Law of Storms; Seeing into the Future; Obliterated; Death and Destruction in the Sunshine State; The Great Hurricane of 1938; Into, Over, and Under the Maelstrom; A Rogues’ Gallery; and Stormy Weather Ahead – these are the chapters that enlighten and inform us about the storms themselves, the history of weather forecasting, and scientific discoveries and technology associated with hurricanes. Dolin incorporates a plethora of firsthand quotations throughout the narrative, as well as peppering it with illustrations related to specific hurricanes, such as before and after a storm passed over a particular place. There is also a center section of color artwork, charts, photographs, and satellite images. In addition to a section of notes at the end of the book, which provide citations and additional information, he also provides footnotes throughout the book to explain important details at the bottom of some pages. The appendix consists of two tables that rank the costliest hurricanes. There are also a select bibliography and an index. A Furious Sky is a spellbinding look at the history of hurricanes that have struck America. What makes this an even more vital addition to the study of hurricanes is that Dolin doesn’t examine each storm in a void. Instead, he shows the profound impact each has had on people and places, as well as how they have shaped our country. This journey encompasses hurricanes from Christopher Columbus’s voyages of discovery to Maria’s decimation of Puerto Rico. He presents scientific concepts in easy-to-understand language that keeps us just as interested as the visceral survivors’ accounts. He introduces us to unlikely heroes – some well-known, like Dan Rather whose coverage of one storm to hit Texas forever changed the way hurricanes are reported in the media; others forgotten, like Father Benito Viñes, a Jesuit who helped save many people in the 1800s because of his fascination with these storms. Dolin’s masterful storytelling intertwines weather, history, politics, invention, and technology in a way that leaves us with a “you are there” feeling. It is an experience not to be missed and not soon forgotten.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cherise Wolas

    As the title states, this is a 500-year history of American hurricanes and it's a fascinating and sweeping history of nature's power, weather forecasting, scientific discoveries, as well as the individual stories of people and places affected by hurricanes, beginning with 15th-century storms and ending with major hurricanes of 2017 and beyond. As the title states, this is a 500-year history of American hurricanes and it's a fascinating and sweeping history of nature's power, weather forecasting, scientific discoveries, as well as the individual stories of people and places affected by hurricanes, beginning with 15th-century storms and ending with major hurricanes of 2017 and beyond.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    This book is a must if you are into the history of Hurricanes around the world. He is very thorough and growing up on the east coast i have a better understanding about them. I have read other books by this author about lighthouses and Pirates! Excellent read!! I won this Book as a Goodreads Giveaway!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    This was a well-written, easy to follow, and I'm sure well-(overly-)researched book. It had what I was looking for: good accounts of hurricanes and survival stories. Unfortunately, before you really get to those, there's a lot of science and history. I have to admit that I skimmed a lot of the first few chapters, as I really wasn't interested in the details of a battle that occurred pre-Revolutionary War, or the development of the telegraph. Probably very interesting stuff, but not very hurrican This was a well-written, easy to follow, and I'm sure well-(overly-)researched book. It had what I was looking for: good accounts of hurricanes and survival stories. Unfortunately, before you really get to those, there's a lot of science and history. I have to admit that I skimmed a lot of the first few chapters, as I really wasn't interested in the details of a battle that occurred pre-Revolutionary War, or the development of the telegraph. Probably very interesting stuff, but not very hurricaney. Worth a read, even so. Just be prepared to really dig into the history of weather forecasting or do a lot of skimming.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ken Heard

    Unbelievable! Forget the topic of weather, this may be the best nonfiction book of any topic I've read in quite a long while. I was blown away (sorry for the hurricane pun) by the scope of this excellent look at the history of hurricanes and the Weather Bureau and National Weather Service. Eric Dolin writes well and his stories are engaging and easily read. This is a book that's hard to put down. It's a comprehensive study of mostly Atlantic and Gulf storms and the wide-sweeping effects of them. Unbelievable! Forget the topic of weather, this may be the best nonfiction book of any topic I've read in quite a long while. I was blown away (sorry for the hurricane pun) by the scope of this excellent look at the history of hurricanes and the Weather Bureau and National Weather Service. Eric Dolin writes well and his stories are engaging and easily read. This is a book that's hard to put down. It's a comprehensive study of mostly Atlantic and Gulf storms and the wide-sweeping effects of them. He even includes Columbus' voyages and how hurricanes changed the practices of pirates back in the 1700s. It's that kind of depth! Of course, he includes in detail the Galveston, Texas, hurricane along with scores of others - Camille, Irma, Katrina, Sandy. And he has scores of anecdotes about each one. I was mostly interested in the science behind the formation of the storms and the evolution of predicting them. I was the weather reporter for nearly 20 years at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and I covered the aftermath of Andrew in Louisiana in 1992. His inclusion of the Weather Service's advances in radars, the airplanes that fly in to the storms' eyes and the creation of the spaghetti models of prediction were all fascinating. Obviously, this is a must read for weather geeks like me. But it's also a fantastic book for anyone interested in history, politics, culture, Americana, life, etc.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tawney

    I received this book compliments of Liveright through the Goodreads giveaway program. Eric Dolin not only packs a tremendous amount of information in this book, but he does it in a highly readable way. The sections on the hurricanes themselves encompass both the meteorological and human aspects of these storms. In addition to that he tells the history of figuring out what hurricanes are and how they act. (It wasn't always obvious and there were egos involved.) Hurricanes sometimes battered the w I received this book compliments of Liveright through the Goodreads giveaway program. Eric Dolin not only packs a tremendous amount of information in this book, but he does it in a highly readable way. The sections on the hurricanes themselves encompass both the meteorological and human aspects of these storms. In addition to that he tells the history of figuring out what hurricanes are and how they act. (It wasn't always obvious and there were egos involved.) Hurricanes sometimes battered the weather service when predictions were wrong and warnings late. Technology helped - not only in gathering data, but disseminating information to the public (although now it may be too much of a good thing). The book has vast documentation, but is never dryly academic. It's fascinating and Dolin's admonitions on areas that will have to be addressed due to global warming are thought provoking.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert Johnson

    Eric Jay Dolin’s latest book “A Furious Sky” should be a must read for everyone that has or will be affected by these behemoth storms of the ocean, which is all of us. More than a list of storms, it is a well written history of tropical storms growing into hurricanes, the development and growth of meteorology and the process of projecting the tracks of hurricanes, of the brave men and women that fly into the storms to gather needed information and the current use of satellites and computer model Eric Jay Dolin’s latest book “A Furious Sky” should be a must read for everyone that has or will be affected by these behemoth storms of the ocean, which is all of us. More than a list of storms, it is a well written history of tropical storms growing into hurricanes, the development and growth of meteorology and the process of projecting the tracks of hurricanes, of the brave men and women that fly into the storms to gather needed information and the current use of satellites and computer models. That being said the book highlights the most impactful storms throughout the 500 year history including the 1900 monster of Galveston, as well as Camille, Andrew, Iniki, Katrina, Sandy and the multiple storms of 2017. Sprinkled with the words of meteorologists and survivors the stories are dramatic and reinforce the unpredictable and ferocious nature of hurricanes. Well written, exciting and compellingly informative I highly recommend this book for readers and as a gift for readers. This book will also serve a a great stepping off to search out books that are dedicated to individual storms. I found this book easy to ready, yet very informative. I highly recommend it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I'm going to avoid the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, if possible, during hurricane season. This book helped me to make that decision. I'm going to avoid the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, if possible, during hurricane season. This book helped me to make that decision.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    HUGE glaring error: Katrina hit in 2005, not 1992. Well-written, and the author does a good job of staying focused on the book’s objective, but this is a book for those who know little about hurricanes. As a born and raised Floridian with a lifelong interest in weather, this book didn’t do much for me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Coffey

    Beautifully written and full of fantastic information about some of the most powerful storms to ever hit North America.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ed Maher

    Most people don’t think much about the weather until it presents a problem. Hurricanes destroy the status quo greater than other weather phenomenon because we can see them coming far in advance. And because they stalk us, they’re like boogeymen. We watch them on radar, plot their path and anticipate their destruction. That is, unless you’re part of the unfortunate who are being stalked. If you’re part of that group, you run like hell. But for most inland dwellers, like me, hurricane watching is Most people don’t think much about the weather until it presents a problem. Hurricanes destroy the status quo greater than other weather phenomenon because we can see them coming far in advance. And because they stalk us, they’re like boogeymen. We watch them on radar, plot their path and anticipate their destruction. That is, unless you’re part of the unfortunate who are being stalked. If you’re part of that group, you run like hell. But for most inland dwellers, like me, hurricane watching is seasonal pageantry free of risk. Cheap entertainment paid for by network television advertising dollars. Someone else’s misery has become my fake fear and utter fascination. It’s kind of scary to think how much technology has rendered Mother Nature this ironic. ‘The Furious Sky’ isn’t just about the history of hurricanes. It’s also about how hurricanes have affected the history of mankind. Christopher Columbus lost his fortune to a hurricane. A hurricane influenced The Revolutionary War. For centuries hurricanes killed thousands of people, largely because they appeared out of nowhere. It wasn’t until very recently that weather forecasting became a science. The primary motivation for meteorological improvement was war. In World War Two, a flight instructor flew into a hurricane on a bet and thus the art of visual verification and measurement was born. Weather satellites became the first drones. Our first eyes in the skies. To the point where we not only have an entire media watching the weather, but storm marshals tracking criminal storms. We now have a list of America’s most destructive hurricanes as if they were gangster mug shots posted by the FBI. That’s not intended to be funny. The increase in the number and ferocity of hurricanes is the most telling proof that climate change is real. Drought, floods and wildfires are all cinematic, but lack celestial imagination. Hurricanes have the type of majesty God can be proud of. ‘The Furious Sky’ is a must read for weather geeks. I can remember my father telling me about the Great Hurricane of 1938 when he was a boy in Hartford, Connecticut. Those were the days when storms didn’t have actual names. Imagine the fear of a dark, anonymous hell that descended from the sky without warning. Bigger than a thousand tornadoes. It most have literally felt like the end of the world. Today, even though we’re numbed to the idea of certain death because of the infinite possibilities, hurricanes cause so much economic devastation that even the mindless are forced to pay attention to weather consequences. Our ancestors prayed for their lives. Nowadays, we worry more about the cost and availability of goods and services being interrupted. As the climate gets worse, the more The Apocalypse changes.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This history of America's hurricanes is interesting since we live on the North Carolina coast. Dolin is a good writer who makes the history a fascinating read, and there are numerous drawings, artworks, charts and photographs. In addition to the history of hurricanes hitting the Americas for 500 years, he also shows the history of weather forecasting and storm detection/alerts. He approaches the topic of climate change and the increasing number of bad weather events, but suggests further reading This history of America's hurricanes is interesting since we live on the North Carolina coast. Dolin is a good writer who makes the history a fascinating read, and there are numerous drawings, artworks, charts and photographs. In addition to the history of hurricanes hitting the Americas for 500 years, he also shows the history of weather forecasting and storm detection/alerts. He approaches the topic of climate change and the increasing number of bad weather events, but suggests further reading on this topic since his is a historical perspective. I am certainly happy to live in a time where we have a week of dire warnings and preparation before being hit by these storms, and not back in the day when they hit unprepared populations with little or no warning.

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