The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.
A New York Times Notable Book
An O, The Oprah Magazine Terrific Read of the Year
A Huffington Post Best Book of the Year
A New Yorker Favorite Book of the Year
A Chicago Tribune Favorite Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Decade
At the end of the nineteenth century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation’s burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal.
Graced by David McCullough’s remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing, classic portrait of life in nineteenth-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. It also offers a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are necessarily behaving responsibly.
On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in the blink of an eye. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men to fight the fires, but no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them. Egan recreates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force, and the larger story of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, that follows is equally resonant. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen. Even as TR's national forests were smoldering they were saved: The heroism shown by his rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though it changed the mission of the forest service in ways we can still witness today.
This e-book includes a sample chapter of SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER.
Only one in ten chases actually intercept a tornado-unless you're Reed Timmer. The thrill-seeking meteorologist and star of Storm Chasers has followed and faced down more violent tornadoes than anyone. Into the Storm brings readers into the mind of this man and his mission—collecting data on tornadoes and hurricanes that could save lives—in the terrifying, awe-inspiring world of big weather.
Into the Storm is also a fascinating look at the science of weather—what causes extreme conditions, its connection to climate change, and how a tornado gets its stovepipe structure.
On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised account: as she struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny; and then, over the ensuing years, as she emerges reluctantly, slowly allowing her memory to take her back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo; all the while learning the difficult balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and the need to keep her family, somehow, still alive within her.
From the Hardcover edition.
In the winter of 1952, New England was battered by the most brutal nor'easter in years. As the weather wreaked havoc on land, the freezing Atlantic became a wind-whipped zone of peril.
In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, found themselves in the same horrifying predicament. Built with "dirty steel," and not prepared to withstand such ferocious seas, both tankers split in two, leaving the dozens of men on board utterly at the Atlantic's mercy.
The Finest Hours is the gripping, true story of the valiant attempt to rescue the souls huddling inside the broken halves of the two ships. Coast Guard cutters raced to the aid of those on the Fort Mercer, and when it became apparent that the halves of the Pendleton were in danger of capsizing, the Guard sent out two thirty-six-foot lifeboats as well. These wooden boats, manned by only four seamen, were dwarfed by the enormous seventy-foot seas. As the tiny rescue vessels set out from the coast of Cape Cod, the men aboard were all fully aware that they were embarking on what could easily become a suicide mission.
The spellbinding tale is overflowing with breathtaking scenes that sear themselves into the mind's eye, as boats capsize, bows and sterns crash into one another, and men hurl themselves into the raging sea in their terrifying battle for survival.
Not all of the eighty-four men caught at sea in the midst of that brutal storm survived, but considering the odds, it's a miracle—and a testament to their bravery—that any came home to tell their tales at all.
Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman have seamlessly woven together their extensive research and firsthand interviews to create an unforgettable tale of heroism, triumph, and tragedy, one that truly tells of the Coast Guard's finest hours.
A "unique and bracing" (Booklist) first-person account by the sole survivor of Arizona's disastrous 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, which took the lives of 19 "hotshots"--firefighters trained specifically to battle wildfires.
Brendan McDonough was on the verge of becoming a hopeless, inveterate heroin addict when he, for the sake of his young daughter, decided to turn his life around. He enlisted in the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a team of elite firefighters based in Prescott, Arizona. Their leader, Eric Marsh, was in a desperate crunch after four hotshots left the unit, and perhaps seeing a glimmer of promise in the skinny would-be recruit, he took a chance on the unlikely McDonough, and the chance paid off. Despite the crew's skepticism, and thanks in large part to Marsh's firm but loving encouragement, McDonough unlocked a latent drive and dedication, going on to successfully battle a number of blazes and eventually win the confidence of the men he came to call his brothers.
Then, on June 30, 2013, while McDonough--"Donut" as he'd been dubbed by his team--served as lookout, they confronted a freak, 3,000-degree inferno in nearby Yarnell, Arizona. The relentless firestorm ultimately trapped his hotshot brothers, tragically killing all 19 of them within minutes. Nationwide, it was the greatest loss of firefighter lives since the 9/11 attacks.
Granite Mountain is a gripping memoir that traces McDonough's story of finding his way out of the dead end of drugs, finding his purpose among the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and the minute-by-minute account of the fateful day he lost the very men who had saved him. A harrowing and redemptive tale of resilience in the face of tragedy, Granite Mountain is also a powerful reminder of the heroism of the people who put themselves in harm's way to protect us every day.
Forest and wildland fires are growing larger, more numerous, and deadlier every year — record drought conditions, decades of forestry mismanagement, and the increasing encroachment of residential housing into the wilderness have combined to create a powder keg that threatens millions of acres and thousands of lives every year. One select group of men and women are part of America's front-line defense: smokejumpers. The smokejumper program operates through both the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Though they are tremendously skilled and only highly experienced and able wildland firefighters are accepted into the training program, being a smokejumper remains an art that can only be learned on the job. Forest fires often behave in unpredictable ways: spreading almost instantaneously, shooting downhill behind a stiff tailwind, or even flowing like a liquid. In this extraordinarily rare memoir by an active-duty jumper, Jason Ramos takes readers into his exhilarating and dangerous world, explores smokejumping’s remarkable history, and explains why their services are more essential than ever before.
April 27, 2011 was the climax of a three-day superstorm that unleashed terror from Arkansas to New York. Entire communities were flattened, whole neighborhoods erased. Tornadoes left scars across the land so wide they could be seen from space. But from terrible destruction emerged everyday heroes—neighbors and strangers who rescued each other from hell on earth.
“Armchair storm chasers will find much to savor in this grippingly detailed, real-time chronicle of nature gone awry” (Kirkus Reviews) set in Alabama, the heart of Dixie Alley where there are more tornado fatalities than anywhere else in the US. With powerful emotion and captivating detail, journalist Kim Cross expertly weaves together science and heartrending human stories. For some, it’s a story of survival; for others it’s the story of their last hours.
Cross’s immersive reporting and dramatic storytelling catapult you to the center of the very worst hit areas, where thousands of ordinary people witnessed the sky falling around them. Yet from the disaster rises a redemptive message that’s just as real: in times of trouble, the things that tear our world apart reveal what holds us together.
A true story of catastrophe and survival at sea, Fatal Forecast is a spellbinding moment-by-moment account of seventy-two hours in the lives of eight young fishermen, some of whom would never set foot on dry land again.
On the morning of November 21, 1980, two small Massachusetts lobster boats set out for Georges Bank, a bountiful but perilous fishing ground 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. The National Weather Service had forecast typical fall weather, and the young, rugged crewmen aboard the Sea Fever and the Fair Wind had made dozens of similar trips that season. They had no reason to expect that this trip would be any different.
But the only weather buoy on Georges Bank was malfunctioning, and the National Weather Service had failed to share this fact with the fishermen who depended on its forecasts. As the two small boats headed out to sea, a colossal storm was brewing to the southeast, a furious maelstrom the National Weather Service did not accurately locate until the boats were already caught in the storm's grip, trapped in the treacherous waters of Georges Bank.
Battered by sixty-foot waves and hurricane-force winds, the crews of the Fair Wind and the Sea Fever (captained by Peter Brown, whose father owned the Andrea Gail of Perfect Storm fame) struggled heroically to keep their vessels afloat. But the storm soon severely crippled one boat and overturned the other, trapping its crew inside.
Meticulously researched and vividly told, Fatal Forecast is first and foremost a tale of miraculous survival. Most amazing is the story of Ernie Hazzard, who managed to crawl inside a tiny inflatable life raft and then spent more than fifty terrifying hours adrift on the stormy open sea. By turns tragic, thrilling, and inspiring, Ernie's story deserves a place among the greatest survival tales ever told.
Equally riveting are the stories of the brave men and women from the Coast Guard and the crew of a nearby fishing boat who imperiled their own lives that day in order to save the lives of others.
As gripping and harrowing as The Perfect Storm - but with a miracle ending - Fatal Forecast is an unforgettable true story about the collision of two spectacular forces: the brutality of nature and the human will to survive.
Using dozens of interview and audiotapes that recorded every word exchanged between Quirk and the Coast Guard, Tougias has written a devastating, true account of bravery and death at sea, in Ten Hours Until Dawn.
Two of America's leading investigators of unexplained phenomena -- Art Bell, the top-rated late-night radio talk-show host, and Whitley Strieber, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Communion and the legendary Nature's End -- have made a shocking discovery based on years of research with top scientists and archaeologists from around the world. Now, they reveal what powerful interests are trying to keep hidden: rapid changes in the atmosphere caused by greenhouse gases have set humanity on an incredibly dangerous course toward a catastrophic change in climate in the immediate future. It will begin with a massive, unprecedented storm that will devastate the Northern Hemisphere. This will be followed by floods unlike anything ever seen before -- or perhaps a new Ice Age. They also unearth evidence that this has happened in the past -- in fact, that it has occurred regularly throughout geologic history, but so infrequently that our only record of the last such storm is contained in ancient myths and flood legends.
From El Niño to the African droughts, to the shrinking of the polar ice caps, Bell and Strieber identify the warning signs to those willing to see. They point out that the Earth's regulatory system is like a rubber band: you can stretch it just so far before it snaps back -- with a vengeance. Since 1995, each successive year has set new records for violent weather. In 1999 a major climatological study predicted that the Earth will soon be warmer than it has been in millions of years. Bell and Strieber tell us why they believe a rebound is imminent -- a rapid and violent cooling that will cover the Northern Hemisphere in a sheath of choking ice and snow.
But it's not too late to reverse our destiny. No mere harbinger of an inevitable doomsday, The Coming Global Superstorm is instead a spirited call to action that offers a wealth of viable solutions to this mammoth challenge to humankind. Through a careful and impressively researched dissection of the myths and legends of ancient cultures and an insightful examination of the best of modern environmental science, Bell and Strieber guide us on an intellectual journey as dark as the murky origins of man and as bright as the promise of an interstellar future.
The Thirtymile fire in the remote North Cascade range near the Canadian border in Washington began as a simple mop-up operation. In a few hours, a series of catastrophic errors led to the entrapment and deaths of four members of the fire crew—two teen-age girls and two young men. Each had brought order and meaning to their lives by joining the fire world. Then the very flames they pursued turned on them, extinguishing their lives. When the victims were blamed for their own deaths, the charge brought a storm of controversy that undermined the firefighting community.
Continuing a tradition established in his previous books, and by his father Norman's Young Men and Fire, John N. Maclean serves as an unflinching guide to the rogue fire's unexpected violence—which is almost matched by the passions released by the official verdict of the blaze. Weaving together the astonishing stories told by the witnesses, the victims' family members, and the official reports, Maclean produces a dramatic narrative of a catastrophe that has changed the way fire is fought. More than anything, it is a story of humanity at risk when wildfire, ancient and unpredictable, breaks loose
Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of a dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city, told through the lives of night unforgettable characters and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed New Orleans in the 1960s, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Dan Baum brings the kaleidoscopic portrait to life, showing us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.
The sky was lit by a full moon on October 29, 2012, but nobody on the eastern seaboard of the United States could see it. Everything had been consumed by cloud. The storm’s immensity caught the attention of scientists on the International Space Station. Even from there, it seemed almost limitless: 1.8 million square feet of tightly coiled bands so huge they filled the windows of the Station. It was the largest storm anyone had ever seen.
Initially a tropical storm, Sandy had grown into a hybrid monster. It charged across open ocean, picking up strength with every step, baffling meteorologists and scientists, officials and emergency managers, even the traditional maritime wisdom of sailors and seamen: What exactly was this thing? By the time anyone decided, it was too late.
And then the storm made landfall.
Sandy was not just enormous, it was also unprecedented. As a result, the entire nation was left flat-footed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration couldn’t issue reliable warnings; the Coast Guard didn’t know what to do. In Superstorm, journalist Kathryn Miles takes readers inside the maelstrom, detailing the stories of dedicated professionals at the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service. The characters include a forecaster who risked his job to sound the alarm in New Jersey, the crew of the ill-fated tall ship Bounty, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Christie, and countless coastal residents whose homes—and lives—were torn apart and then left to wonder . . . When is the next superstorm coming?
As the Big One bore down, New Orleanians rich and poor, black and white, lurched from giddy revelry to mandatory evacuation. The thousands who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave initially congratulated themselves on once again riding out the storm. But then the unimaginable happened: Within a day 80 percent of the city was under water. The rising tides chased horrified men and women into snake-filled attics and onto the roofs of their houses. Heroes in swamp boats and helicopters braved wind and storm surge to bring survivors to dry ground. Mansions and shacks alike were swept away, and then a tidal wave of lawlessness inundated the Big Easy. Screams and gunshots echoed through the blacked-out Superdome. Police threw away their badges and joined in the looting. Corpses drifted in the streets for days, and buildings marinated for weeks in a witches’ brew of toxic chemicals that, when the floodwaters finally were pumped out, had turned vast reaches of the city into a ghost town.
Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weave a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense–all of these lives collide in a chronicle that is harrowing, angry, and often slyly ironic.
Even before stranded survivors had been plucked from their roofs, government officials embarked on a vicious blame game that further snarled the relief operation and bedeviled scientists striving to understand the massive levee failures and build New Orleans a foolproof flood defense. As Horne makes clear, this shameless politicization set the tone for the ongoing reconstruction effort, which has been haunted by racial and class tensions from the start.
Katrina was a catastrophe deeply rooted in the politics and culture of the city that care forgot and of a nation that forgot to care. In Breach of Faith, Jed Horne has created a spellbinding epic of one of the worst disasters of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
In 1904, the brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler, partner to John D. Rockefeller, dreamed of a railway connecting the island of Key West to the Florida mainland, crossing a staggering 153 miles of open ocean—an engineering challenge beyond even that of the Panama Canal. Many considered the project impossible, but build it they did. The railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for more than twenty-two years, heralded as “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” until its total destruction in 1935's deadly storm of the century.
In Last Train to Paradise, Standiford celebrates this crowning achievement of Gilded Age ambition, bringing to life a sweeping tale of the powerful forces of human ingenuity colliding with the even greater forces of nature’s wrath.
Laki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years. It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe.
Island on Fire is the story not only of a single eruption but the people whose lives it changed, the dawn of modern volcanology, as well as the history—and potential—of other super-volcanoes like Laki around the world. And perhaps most pertinently, in the wake of the eruption of another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which closed European air space in 2010, acclaimed science writers Witze and Kanipe look at what might transpire should Laki erupt again in our lifetime.
In February 1910, a monstrous blizzard centered on Washington State hit the Northwest, breaking records. The world stopped—but nowhere was the danger more terrifying than near a tiny town called Wellington, perched high in the Cascade Mountains, where a desperate situation evolved minute by minute: two trainloads of cold, hungry passengers and their crews found themselves marooned without escape, their railcars gradually being buried in the rising drifts. For days, an army of the Great Northern Railroad's most dedicated men—led by the line's legendarily courageous superintendent, James O'Neill—worked round-the-clock to rescue the trains. But the storm was unrelenting, and to the passenger's great anxiety, the railcars—their only shelter—were parked precariously on the edge of a steep ravine. As the days passed, food and coal supplies dwindled. Panic and rage set in as snow accumulated deeper and deeper on the cliffs overhanging the trains. Finally, just when escape seemed possible, the unthinkable occurred: the earth shifted and a colossal avalanche tumbled from the high pinnacles, sweeping the trains and their sleeping passengers over the steep slope and down the mountainside.
Centered on the astonishing spectacle of our nation's deadliest avalanche, Gary Krist's The White Cascade is the masterfully told story of a supremely dramatic and never-before-documented American tragedy. An adventure saga filled with colorful and engaging history, this is epic narrative storytelling at its finest.
One hundred fifty miles away, in Sitka, Alaska, an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifts off from America's most remote Coast Guard base in the hopes of tracking down an anonymous Mayday signal. A fisherman's worst nightmare has become a Coast Guard crew's desperate mission. As the crew of the La Conte begin to die one by one, those sworn to watch over them risk everything to pull off the rescue of the century.
Spike Walker's memoir of his years as a deckhand in Alaska, Working on the Edge, was hailed by James A. Michner as "masterful . . . will become the definitive account of this perilous trade, an addition to the literature of the sea." In Coming Back Alive, Walker has crafted his most devastating book to date. Meticulously researched through hundreds of hours of taped interviews with the survivors, this is the true account of the La Conte's final voyage and the relationship between Alaskan fishermen and the search and rescue crews who risk their lives to save them.
The Bounty, crewed by an eclectic team of seafarers and led by highly respected captain Robin Walbridge, departed from Connecticut as Sandy raced north. Walbridge, whose decisions decided the fate of his ship and crew, attempted to outmaneuver the storm by heading southeast. As violent gusts tossed the wooden vessel, the crew fought to save their ship—and themselves. When the storm finally overtook the ship, the crew was tossed into the churning sea.
The men and women of a Coast Guard station in North Carolina courageously flew into hundred-mile-per-hour winds to rescue the survivors of the Bounty. After hours of white-knuckle flying, they accomplished one of their most memorable rescues ever.
Based on interviews with Bounty survivors and unfettered access to Coast Guard rescue team members, The Gathering Wind is the most complete account of this heartbreaking, thrilling, and inspirational story.
They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair. And stories about refrigerators.
Dead in Attic freeze-frames New Orleans, caught between an old era and a new, during its most desperate time, as it struggles out of the floodwaters and wills itself back to life.
As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the catastrophe approaches, it remains the deadliest school disaster in U.S. history. Few, however, know of this historic tragedy, and no book, until now, has chronicled the explosion, its cause, its victims, and the aftermath.
Gone at 3:17 is a true story of what can happen when school officials make bad decisions. To save money on heating the school building, the trustees had authorized workers to tap into a pipeline carrying “waste” natural gas produced by a gasoline refinery. The explosion led to laws that now require gas companies to add the familiar pungent odor. The knowledge that the tragedy could have been prevented added immeasurably to the heartbreak experienced by the survivors and the victims’ families. The town would never be the same.
Using interviews, testimony from survivors, and archival newspaper files, Gone at 3:17 puts readers inside the shop class to witness the spark that ignited the gas. Many of those interviewed during twenty years of research are no longer living, but their acts of heroism and stories of survival live on in this meticulously documented and extensively illustrated book.
On February 26, 1972, 132-million gallons of debris-filled muddy water burst through a makeshift mining-company dam and roared through Buffalo Creek, a narrow mountain hollow in West Virginia. Following the flood, survivors from a previously tightly knit community were crowded into trailer homes with no concern for former neighborhoods. The result was a collective trauma that lasted longer than the individual traumas caused by the original disaster.
Making extensive use of the words of the people themselves, Erikson details the conflicting tensions of mountain life in general—the tensions between individualism and dependency, self-assertion and resignation, self-centeredness and group orientation—and examines the loss of connection, disorientation, declining morality, rise in crime, rise in out-migration, etc., that resulted from the sudden loss of neighborhood.
In Fire, Sebastian Junger brings to bear the same meticulous prose that made A Perfect Storm a modern classic onto the inner workings of a terrifying elemental force—an out-of-control inferno burning in the steep canyons of Idaho—and the cast of characters risking everything to bring that force under control.
Few writers have been to so many desperate corners of the globe as has Sebastian Junger; fewer still have provided such starkly memorable evocations of characters and events. From the murderous mechanics of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone to the logic of guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan and the forensics of genocide in Kosovo, this collection of Junger's nonfiction will take you places you wouldn't dream of going to on your own.
fire? Or you are the victim of a terrorist attack? Would you make the right
decision to save yourself and the lives of others? Crisis Survival is a
complete handbook to any crisis that may suddenly arise, from food or water
shortages, to natural disasters, to plane crashes and hostage situations. A
crisis might last a few hours, days, or even years – with this book you can be
ready for any eventuality. With easy-to-follow illustrations and handy
lists of key information, Crisis Survival is the definitive crisis survival
guide for anyone wanting to be ready for anything – it could literally save
Author Geoff Partlow follows the storm from town to town, introducing us to the people most affected by the tornado, including the African American population of southern Illinois. Their narratives, along with the stories of the heroes who led recovery efforts in the years following, add a hometown perspective to the account of the storm itself.
In the discussion of the aftermath of the tornado, Partlow examines the lasting social and economic scars in the area, but he also looks at some of the technological firsts associated with this devastating tragedy. Partlow shows how relief efforts in the region began to change the way people throughout the nation thought about disaster relief, which led to the unified responses we are familiar with today.
2015 ISHS Certificate of Excellence
On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake occurred off the northeastern coast of Japan, triggering a 50-foot tsunami that crushed everything in its path—highways, airports, villages, trains, and buses—leaving death and destruction behind, and causing a major radiation leak from five nuclear plants. Here eighteen writers give us their trenchant observations and emotional responses to such a tragedy, in what is a fascinating, enigmatic and poignant collection.
Making and maintaining an accurate flood map is neither simple nor inexpensive. Even after an investment of more than $1 billion to take flood maps into the digital world, only 21 percent of the population has maps that meet or exceed national flood hazard data quality thresholds. Even when floodplains are mapped with high accuracy, land development and natural changes to the landscape or hydrologic systems create the need for continuous map maintenance and updates.
Mapping the Zone examines the factors that affect flood map accuracy, assesses the benefits and costs of more accurate flood maps, and recommends ways to improve flood mapping, communication, and management of flood-related data.
Dennis Smith, author of Report from Engine Co. 82, traveled across the country talking to dozens of America’s firefighters to put together this powerful collection of their own descriptions of their most dramatic and intense experiences on the job. Their stories, compiled here, are timeless testimonies to the human capacity for heroism and nobility.
Focusing on the most courageous firefighters, from those who have been decorated for heroism to those who have been seriously injured, Firefighters presents the extraordinarily rich and rugged voices of men and women who fight urban building fires, who battle sweeping forest fires, who perform emergency rescues, and who face extreme danger and risk as part of their everyday lives. Sometimes brave, sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet or filled with anger, these voices combine to make Firefighters both a riveting adventure drama and a moving chronicle of American heroism at its finest.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
ON JUNE 23, 2000, the iron-ore carrier MV Treasure, en route from Brazil to China, foundered off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, spilling 1,300 tons of oil into the ocean and contaminating the habitat of 75,000 penguins. Realizing thJuneat 41 percent of the world’s population of African penguins could perish, local conservation officials immediately launched a massive rescue operation, and 12,500 volunteers from around the globe rushed to South Africa in hopes of saving the imperiled birds.
Serving as a rehabilitation manager during the initial phase of the three-month rescue effort, Dyan deNapoli—better known as "the Penguin Lady" for her extensive work with penguins—and fellow volunteers de-oiled, nursed back to health, and released into the wild nearly all of the affected birds. Now, at the tenth anniversary of the disaster, deNapoli recounts this extraordinary true story of the world’s largest and most successful wildlife rescue.
When she first entered the enormous warehouse housing most of the 19,000 oiled penguins, the birds’ total silence told deNapoli all she needed to know about the extent of their trauma. African penguins are very vocal by nature, prone to extended fits of raucous, competitive braying during territorial displays and pair-bonding rituals, but these poor creatures now stood silently, shoulder to shoulder, in a state of shock. DeNapoli vividly details the harrowing rescue process and the heartbreaking scenarios she came up against alongside thousands of volunteers: unforgettable images of them laboriously scrubbing the oil from every penguin feather and force-feeding each individually; the excruciatingly painful penguin bites every volunteer received; and the wrenching decisions about birds too ill to survive. She draws readers headfirst into the exhausting physical and emotional experience and brings to life the cast of remarkable characters—from Big Mike, a compassionate Jiu-Jitsu champion with a booming voice, who worked every day of the rescue effort; to a man named Welcome, aka "the Penguin Whisperer," who had the amazing ability to calm any penguin he held in his arms; to Louis, a seventeen-year-old medical student who created a new formula for the highly effective degreaser used by the rescue mission—whose historic and heroic efforts saved the birds from near extinction. The extraordinary international collaboration of scientists, zookeepers, animal rescue groups, and thousands of concerned individuals helped save the African penguins—recently declared an endangered species—from an all-too-common man-made disaster.
DeNapoli’s heartwarming and riveting story is not just a portrait of these captivating birds, nor is it merely a cautionary tale about the environment. It is also an inspirational chronicle of how following one’s passion can lead to unexpected, rewarding adventures—and illustrates not only how people from around the world can unite for a greater purpose, but how they can be extraordinarily successful when doing so. The Great Penguin Rescue will inspire readers to believe they can make a difference
The heroes of this saga are the local people and local officials. In often moving accounts, the book addresses the Mississippi Gulf Coast's long struggle to remove a record-setting volume of debris and get on with the rebuilding of homes, schools, jobs, and public infrastructure. Along the way readers are offered insights into the politics of recovery funding and the bureaucratic bungling and hubris that afflicted the storm response and complicated and delayed the work of recovery. Still, there are ample accounts of things done well, and a moving chapter gives us a feel for the psychological, spiritual, and material impact of the eight hundred thousand people from across the nation who gave of themselves as volunteers in the Mississippi recovery effort.
After combing libraries and archives, grilling county historians, trekking to flood sites, and collecting scores of graphic photographs, Jonathan Burnett chose twenty-eight floods from around the state to create this narrative of a century of disastrous events. Beginning with the famous Austin dam break of 1900 and ending with the historic 2002 flooding in the Hill Country, Burnett chronicles the causes and courses of these catastrophic floods as well as their costs in material damage and human lives.
Dramatic photographs of each event enhance the harrowing accounts of danger spawned by nature on a rampage. Together, the stories and the pictures give readers a vivid and lasting image of the power and unpredictability of flash floods in Texas.
Mark M. Smith offers three highly original histories of the storm's impact in southern Mississippi. In the first essay Smith examines the sensory experience and impact of the hurricane--how the storm rearranged and challenged residents' senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. The second essay explains the way key federal officials linked the question of hurricane relief and the desegregation of Mississippi's public schools. Smith concludes by considering the political economy of short- and long-term disaster recovery, returning to issues of race and class.
Camille, 1969 offers stories of survival and experience, of the tenacity of social justice in the face of a natural disaster, and of how recovery from Camille worked for some but did not work for others. Throughout these essays are lessons about how we might learn from the past in planning for recovery from natural disasters in the future.
In this fascinating, groundbreaking, totally accessible book, archaeological journalist David Keys dramatically reconstructs the global chain of revolutions that began in the catastrophe of A.D. 535, then offers a definitive explanation of how and why this cataclysm occurred on that momentous day centuries ago.
The Roman Empire, the greatest power in Europe and the Middle East for centuries, lost half its territory in the century following the catastrophe. During the exact same period, the ancient southern Chinese state, weakened by economic turmoil, succumbed to invaders from the north, and a single unified China was born. Meanwhile, as restless tribes swept down from the central Asian steppes, a new religion known as Islam spread through the Middle East. As Keys demonstrates with compelling originality and authoritative research, these were not isolated upheavals but linked events arising from the same cause and rippling around the world like an enormous tidal wave.
Keys's narrative circles the globe as he identifies the eerie fallout from the months of darkness: unprecedented drought in Central America, a strange yellow dust drifting like snow over eastern Asia, prolonged famine, and the hideous pandemic of the bubonic plague. With a superb command of ancient literatures and historical records, Keys makes hitherto unrecognized connections between the "wasteland" that overspread the British countryside and the fall of the great pyramid-building Teotihuacan civilization in Mexico, between a little-known "Jewish empire" in Eastern Europe and the rise of the Japanese nation-state, between storms in France and pestilence in Ireland.
In the book's final chapters, Keys delves into the mystery at the heart of this global catastrophe: Why did it happen? The answer, at once surprising and definitive, holds chilling implications for our own precarious geopolitical future. Wide-ranging in its scholarship, written with flair and passion, filled with original insights, Catastrophe is a superb synthesis of history, science, and cultural interpretation.
Not until 1999—the fiftieth anniversary of the fire—did people begin to talk openly about Mann Gulch. Matthews has garnered those thoughts to reveal how devastating the fire was to the firefighters’ family members, coworkers, and friends. In retelling the story of Mann Gulch, he draws on the testimony of the three survivors—including never-before-published insights from the last living member of the team—and interviews with former smoke jumpers of that era. The result is a moment-by-moment, heart-stopping re-creation of events.
The Mann Gulch tragedy provoked the Forest Service to develop safety equipment and training programs, but fighting wildfires is still a perilous job.
Matthews’ stirring account renews our respect for one of nature’s primal forces. A heartbreakingly human story, it still haunts a firefighting community—and keeps today’s firefighters forever on guard.
Twisted recounts the Porters' first 11 months, post tornado. Rebuilding their house, working around the challenges presented by inadequate insurance coverage. Frustration at repeated bouts of incompetence and greed from their city officials. Dealing with issues such as loss of control, logistics, change, and over-stimulation, as two adults with Aspergers.
With the help of social media - and the incredibly generous support of the geek community - the Porters were able to emerge from the recovery marathon without too much of a hit to their sanity levels. New friends were made, new skills learned, and a "new" house emerged from the destruction. Twisted is a roller coaster of emotion, personal observations, rants, humor, social commentary, set backs and triumphs.
Subjects covered include: Opportunistic "Vultures," gawkers, new friendships, a bizarre gingerbread house, unique decisions made with the rebuild - including an internet-famous kitchen backsplash, "Tornado Claus," contractor drama, water balloons, DIY design and work, music, sensory overload, and details on how to cook jambalaya for almost 300 people, in the parking lot of a funeral home... should you ever find yourself in the position to do so!
"Twisted" also includes many Twitter "tweets" from along the way - real time thoughts and feelings on the whole ordeal.
When a massive wildfire surrounded Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, five monks risked their lives to save it. A gripping narrative as well as a portrait of the Zen path and the ways of wildfire, Fire Monks reveals what it means to meet a crisis with full presence of mind.
Zen master and author of the classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi established a monastery at Tassajara Hot Springs in 1967, drawn to the location's beauty, peace, and seclusion. Deep in the wilderness east of Big Sur, the center is connected to the outside world by a single unpaved road. The remoteness that makes it an oasis also makes it particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes. If fire entered the canyon, there would be no escape.
More than two thousand wildfires, all started by a single lightning storm, blazed across the state of California in June 2008. With resources stretched thin, firefighters advised residents at Tassajara to evacuate early. Most did. A small crew stayed behind, preparing to protect the monastery when the fire arrived.
But nothing could have prepared them for what came next. A treacherous shift in weather conditions prompted a final order to evacuate everyone, including all firefighters. As they caravanned up the road, five senior monks made the risky decision to turn back. Relying on their Zen training, they were able to remain in the moment and do the seemingly impossible-to greet the fire not as an enemy to defeat, but as a friend to guide.
Fire Monks pivots on the kind of moment some seek and some run from, when life and death hang in simultaneous view. Novices in fire but experts in readiness, the Tassajara monks summoned both intuition and wisdom to face crisis with startling clarity. The result is a profound lesson in the art of living.