Roker's account will interest readers who previously knew nothing about the Galveston hurricane. However, Isaac's Storm is...



Today weather anchor Roker (Never Goin' Back: Winning the Weight Loss Battle for Good, 2012, etc.) recounts the hurricane that leveled Galveston, Texas, during September 1900, killing an estimated 10,000 people.

The narrative of the storm and its gruesome aftermath moves along briskly, but some readers may wonder why the author decided to devote his celebrity name and his time to an account that has been told better in Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History (1999) and John Edward Weems' A Weekend in September (1957). In his "Note on Further Reading," Roker acknowledges those two books as vital sources for his version of the historical record. He also states that his book is the first to use the oral histories collected in Izola Collins’ Island of Color (2004), “which preserves the history of Galveston’s African American community from Juneteenth to the post-segregation era.” How the oral histories collected by Collins fit into Roker’s narrative, however, is unclear. Roker’s accounts of the suffering of hundreds of individuals are, for the most part, compelling. Most are tragic, and some are uplifting. But they drift throughout the book, with little sense to the order in which they appear, disappear temporarily, and then reappear. Roker's weather-forecasting experience serves him well, and the narrative is strongest when he turns from the seemingly random minidramas of individuals to explain the forces of nature at play. The grimmest portion of the book, understandably, deals with how the Galveston residents who survived labored to bury the dead—first in the ocean, which proved difficult to accomplish, and then by cremation via open fires. The stench was pervasive and potentially deadly.

Roker's account will interest readers who previously knew nothing about the Galveston hurricane. However, Isaac's Storm is not out of date and deserves its place as the recommended version.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-236465-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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