- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 24 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316832111
- ISBN-13: 978-0316832113
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #691,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 Paperback – Aug 24 2004
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
""A fascinating book, a bit like The Perfect Storm "but more compelling. Even for those who have read other books about the hurricane, this is a page-turner."
Showing 1-2 of 10 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
"Sea" offers a clear companion and comparison to "Isaac's Storm," the epic of the Galveston hurricane of 1900. "Sea" is able to focus much more on the human element of the catastrophe, using interviews with survivors, photographs (fourteen glossy pages), and records that were just not kept in or saved from 1900. Survivors are alive today. "Sea" is more about the people who fought, including some who survived, the storm. In "Sea," a smug senior forecaster in Washington, DC dismisses the hurricane forecast of an assistant, striking the word 'hurricane' from the assistant's report for September 21 and leading to a lack of warning to the targeted, highly populated areas. The fact that such a storm was unique or that most of the Atlantic's similar storms pushed to the northeast and out to sea was not a good reason to ignore the disastrous consequences of the "Bermuda high" that kept the storm closer to land. The post-storm analysis may have been the real impetus for the modernization of weather forecasting. repairing the damage to railroads, telephone lines, livestock and roads helped usher in the modern age. Air passenger traffice between New York and Boston increased 500% in the week after the storm.
Scotti, a journalist and mystery novelist, uses words well. "Sea" is laden with brief, connected, poignant stories. Capturing the wildness of the sea and storms is no small task. Scotti even includes a brief set of scenes from the life of Katherine Hepburn from that day: swimming and golfing in Connecticut, before seeing her estate, Tara, being washed away. "Sea: has about five small maps; each could have used a bit more detail. And a larger map, tracking the entire storm of its short life, would have been a good, consistent visual reference point for the reader, and would provide more of the dynamic nature of the storm. Without it, some of the stories are static and difficult to connect.
The Weather Bureau gave no cause for alarm, at least not after the hurricane skirted Florida and headed north. The meteorologists in Washington D.C. assumed that the storm would dissipate in the cold waters of the Atlantic, as had happened to all north-bound hurricanes since the Great September Gale devastated New England in 1815.
According to the author, no one could have been prepared for the 1938 storm's speed and ferocity. Sweeping northward from Cape Hatteras, building tremendous momentum as it advanced, the hurricane raced over six hundred miles in only twelve hours. Only the captain of the 'Carinthia,' a small 20,000 ton luxury cruiser that weathered the ferocious brawl 150 miles north of Florida might have given warning. He did radio to shore that his barometer had dropped "almost an inch to 27.85 in less than an hour. It was one of the lowest readings ever recorded in the North Atlantic."
Author Scotti interviewed many survivors of this ferocious storm, and includes the story of Katharine Hepburn who had to escape her seaside house through a dining room window and then battle her way to higher ground:
"When the Hepburns reached high ground, they looked back. [Their house] which had endured tide and wind since the 1870's, pirouetted slowly and sailed away."
Many folks were not as fortunate as the Hepburns. The storm surge was so sudden and so high many houses were completely inundated before their inhabitants could escape. One survivor saw a submerged house leap twenty-five feet into the air and explode. Another watched as a school bus containing his children was overtaken by the onrushing water. Others climbed to the top floors of their homes, then clung desperately to pieces of their roof as their houses washed away beneath them.
It is estimated that 682 people died and another 1,754 were seriously wounded by the 'Long Island Express.' Scotti focuses on a few representative stories, and relates tantalizing fragments of many others.
If you would like to read a first-hand account of the 'Long Island Express,' September 21, 1938 was also the day that Everett S. Allen, recent college graduate and future author of "A Wind to Shake the World," began his first 'real' job as a reporter for the New Bedford 'Standard Times.' His book is one of the finest accounts of this vastly underreported hurricane.
Want to see more reviews on this item?