The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras

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The life and death saga of one of history’s greatest storm chasers: a tour-de-force tale of obsession, ingenuity, and the race to understand nature’s fiercest phenomenon—the tornado.

“An instant classic of Americana.” —Hampton Sides
“Many a novel is not written this memorably.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Masterful. This is what man versus nature is all about.” —Skip Hollandsworth
“Hargrove is one today’s great science writers.” —The Washington Post

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the tornado was one of the last true mysteries of the modern world. It was a monster that ravaged the American heartland a thousand times each year, yet science’s every effort to divine its inner workings had ended in failure. Researchers all but gave up, until the arrival of an outsider.

In a field of PhDs, Tim Samaras didn’t attend a day of college in his life. He chased storms with brilliant tools of his own invention and pushed closer to the tornado than anyone else ever dared. When he achieved what meteorologists had deemed impossible, it was as if he had snatched the fire of the gods. Yet even as he transformed the field, Samaras kept on pushing. As his ambitions grew, so did the risks. And when he finally met his match—in a faceoff against the largest tornado ever recorded—it upended everything he thought he knew.

Brantley Hargrove delivers a masterful tale, chronicling the life of Tim Samaras in all its triumph and tragedy. He takes readers inside the thrill of the chase, the captivating science of tornadoes, and the remarkable character of a man who walked the line between life and death in pursuit of knowledge. Following the tradition of Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm, Hargrove’s debut offers an unforgettable exploration of obsession and the extremes of the natural world.
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About the author

Brantley Hargrove is a journalist who has written for Wired, Popular Mechanics, and Texas Monthly. He’s gone inside the effort to reverse-engineer supertornadoes using supercomputers and has chased violent storms from the Great Plains down to the Texas coast. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Renee, and their two cats. The Man Who Caught the Storm is his first book.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Apr 3, 2018
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781476796116
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
Nature / Natural Disasters
Science / Earth Sciences / Meteorology & Climatology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The true story behind the events that inspired the major motion picture Only the Brave.

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.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.

That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.

In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.

In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.


From the Hardcover edition.
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