Isaac’s Storm Review

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson details one of the worst hurricane disasters in America’s history. Focusing on one man but telling the story through the lens of multiple other families and lives, it goes over a brutal hurricane that swept over the Galveston area of Texas. It was a truly sad and frightening retelling. Living on the island of Oahu, we have been very fortunate. Although we do experience hurricanes, we usually have the island of Hawaii, where, unfortunately, the residents there, take the brunt of the damage. One of the major hurricanes I’ve personally experienced as a kid was in 1992 during Hurricane Iniki. I still remember how intense (and exciting) it was, and we weren’t even in the direct path! Rather, the island of Kauai took it the worst. Learning the damage a hurricane can cause by reading stories such as Isaac’s Storm is a reminder that one can never take anything for granted, especially when one is living on an island or near a coastline.

“It would be impossible for any cyclone to create a storm wave which could materially injure the city.”

Isaac Cline

Due to how limited the information was at the time, the author had to go through many hours of research to piece together the story as accurately as possible from various and disparate sources. It felt like the hurricane chose one of the worst times to invade Galveston. It was right at the turn of a new century. It literally felt as if the hurricane wanted to tell mankind that regardless of how confident we are, regardless of a new century upon us, and regardless of our technological prowess, Mother Nature will always prevail in the end.

“I remember now that it seemed as if we were in a bowl looking up toward the level of the sea. I felt as if the sea was going to break over the edge of the bowl and come pouring down on us.”

King Vidor

One thing I should have done prior to reading this book, and advice that I highly recommend it, is to learn how a hurricane actually forms. Videos such as those from YouTube can help tremendously in understanding why something as trivial as water evaporation and wind over the ocean can form into a monster of mother nature. There were some parts in the beginning where the author went into the technical details of this process, but I struggled to follow along with words alone. Another piece of advice would be to look up Galveston on Google Maps. Surprisingly, a lot of the street names remain the same now as they did during Isaac’s time.

At night the fires lit the horizon in all directions, as if four suns were about to rise.

After having read Isaac’s Storm, I believe it’s hard to pin the entire incident on the shoulders of Isaac Cline. Surely he had a part to play in the disaster, but as with so many other major events throughout the history of our world, many things came together to make the disaster what it was at that time. Even in our modern technological age, even with advance warning, there will still be deaths resulting from natural disasters. Mother nature will do what it will do, and humans will do what we do.


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