I learned of Mark Levine's book, F5, some weeks ago, but before I had a chance to read it, my attention was captivated by a lead story in the media. A monstor tornado had just obliterated my boyhood home of Greensburg, Kansas. I had not lived there for most of my adult life, decades, but, I still had family and relations living there. Anyone growing up in Kansas has heard plenty of tornado tales, yet, I never saw one personally, and had only the vaguest idea of their causes. Mark Levine's book has changed that. F5 gives a comprehensive view of the causes and conditions that spawn them and makes the science come alive in the life of the man who came to be known as "Mr. Tornado."
Most compelling, however, is Levine's ability to get inside the lives of more than a dozen people of Limestone County, Alabama who experienced a super outbreak of tornadoes on April 3, 1974. I marveled at his understanding of these unfortunate people. He must have spent countless hours interviewing them, most probably over many repeated visits. The book opens with an account of a couple of teen-agers who drive into the teeth of this killer storm. The immediacy of the authors prose puts you in the car with them, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel.
In F5, we know what these few experienced, what they lost, and the agony they suffered. We also learn how their lives were permanently altered by those brief, horrifying, and blurry moments in 1974. This is a book that I'll probably read a second time.