A sweeping, absorbing history of nature's power.

READ REVIEW

A FURIOUS SKY

THE FIVE-HUNDRED-YEAR HISTORY OF AMERICA'S HURRICANES

How hurricanes have indelibly shaped America's land and society.

Drawing on abundant sources, including material from the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service, and Hurricane Research Division, and with an academic background in environmental policy, Dolin, who has a doctorate in environmental policy, offers an authoritative and lively history of hurricanes, beginning with 15th-century storms and ending with major hurricanes of 2017 and a brief account of Hurricane Dorian of last year. Besides chronicling the tense period leading up to landfall, the violent impact, the immediate responses, and the long-term recoveries, the author offers a fascinating history of weather forecasting, which was revolutionized by the telegraph in the mid-19th century. The Smithsonian Institution became the first repository of meteorological information when telegraph operators were instructed to send a message each morning describing the weather: cloudy, fair, or rainy. Soon, they added readings from meteorological instruments, making their forecasts more useful. In 1870, the U.S. Army Signal Corps took over weather forecasting, creating maps that could “predict the progression of weather over time.” But accuracy eluded forecasters until airplanes, satellites, radar, and computers came into play—and even then, controversy sometimes erupted about the intensity and course of a storm. Dolin traces many major events: “a storm surge of biblical proportions” in Galveston, Texas, in 1900; the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926; the Labor Day Hurricane that swept through the Florida Keys in 1935; the “sudden, jarring, widespread, and devastating” Great Hurricane of 1938; Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Katrina in 2005, and Sandy, which besieged New York City in 2012. Efforts to control hurricanes, such as seeding clouds with dry ice or silver iodide, failed. Other proposals, such as towing icebergs from the Arctic to cool the ocean and diminish a storm’s energy, were “outlandish and totally impractical.” Dolin underscores the threat of global warming to worsen hurricanes and urges society to act quickly and boldly “to counter this threat in any way we can.”

A sweeping, absorbing history of nature's power. (118 illustrations)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63149-527-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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

NIGHT

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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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