The Last Days of St. Pierre: The Volcanic Disaster that Claimed Thirty Thousand Lives

Rutgers University Press
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On May 8, 1902, Mont Pelée on the island of Martinique exploded. A deadly cloud of steam and ash churned through plantations and villages, flattened the grand city of St. Pierre, then thundered into the bay where it sank eighteen ships and hundreds of smaller craft. Within a minute or two, nearly 30,000 humans died. The splintered rubble of their homes and belongings burned for three days, and the world began to understand the awesome power of nuées ardentes, glowing avalanches of hot gas and debris that sweep down the slopes of volcanoes, instantly steaming to death anything in its path. The enormous death toll was particularly tragic because it was avoidable. Had it not been for an unfortunate combination of scientific misjudgment and political hubris, most of the victims would have escaped.

In The Last Days of St. Pierre, Ernest Zebrowski Jr. counts down the days leading up to the catastrophe, and unfolds a tale intertwining human foolishness and heroism with the remarkable forces of nature. Illustrations contrast life in Martinique before and after the eruption, and eyewitness accounts bring the story to life.

Although it seems a long time since the destruction of St. Pierre, it is a mere blink of an eye in our planet's geological history. Mont Pelée will erupt again, as will Vesuvius, Krakatau, St. Helens, Thera, and most other infamously fatal volcanoes, and human lives will again be threatened. The St. Pierre disaster has taught us much about the awesome power of volcanic forces and the devastation they can bring.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Rutgers University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2002
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Pages
291
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ISBN
9780813530413
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Caribbean & West Indies / General
Nature / Earthquakes & Volcanoes
Nature / Natural Disasters
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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—Library Journal online


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--John C. Pine, Chair, Department of Geography & Anthropology and Director of Disaster Science & Management, Louisiana State University

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Hydrocarbon Hucksters is the saga of the oil industry's takeover of Louisiana--its leaders, its laws, its environment, and, by rechanneling the flow of public information, its voters. It is a chronicle of mindboggling scientific and technical triumphs sharing the same public stew with myths about the "goodness" of oil and bald-faced public lies by politicians and the captains of industry. It is a story of money and power, greed and corruption, jingoism and exploitation, pollution and disease, and the bewilderment and resignation of too many of the powerless. Most importantly, Hydrocarbon Hucksters is a case study of what happens when a state uncritically hands the oil and petrochemical industries everything they desire. Today, Louisiana ranks at or near the bottom of the fifty states on virtually every measure related to the quality of life--income, health, education, environment, public services, public safety, physical infrastructure, and vulnerability to disasters (both natural and man-made). Nor, contrary to the claims of the hydrocarbon sector, has there been much in the way of job creation to offset all of this social grief.

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE • A thrilling adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of Shadow Divers

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Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

Praise for Pirate Hunters

“You won’t want to put [it] down.”—Los Angeles Times

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