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Paperback Sudden Sea : The Great Hurricane Of 1938 Book

ISBN: 0316832111

ISBN13: 9780316832113

Sudden Sea : The Great Hurricane Of 1938

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Book Overview

In the tradition of "The Perfect Storm, Sudden Sea" harkens back to a natural disaster that struck terror in the hearts of many. In this narrative, readers experience The Great Hurricane of 1938, the most financially destructive storm on record.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Truly Wonderful Historical Narrative

When you think of hurricanes you tend to think of the Caribbean or the Coastal South, not New England but in 1938 a killer hurricane of massive proportions hit an unprepared New England and changed both the geography and people of that region forever. The first question that comes to mind of course concerns what a hurricane was doing that far north in the first place. New England is certainly not immune from storms but most hurricanes strike the South, swerve back out to sea or weaken greatly before they get that far north. This one not only made it to New England but it retained its power and probably slammed parts of the coast with 200 mph winds. Without answering this question the author certainly could not tell this story in a credible way so this is one of the first things that she sets out to do and she does it very well indeed. Not only does she explain the several weather oddities that had to come together for this disaster to happen, she does so in a manner that anyone who has even the most passing acquaintance with weather terminology can understand. She also handles the story of how the weather bureau lost the storm and therefore provided no warnings to the people who were about to face the full fury of nature with a deftness that allows the reader to understand what happened and why. Once the reader is sufficiently girded with the basic knowledge needed to grasp the situation at hand the author proceeds to weave in the story of the people who were in the great storm's crosshairs. She does this in such a masterful way that if you weren't aware that you were reading history you would be convinced that you were in the midst of a great novel. As the storm approaches we meet family after family who are just going about their daily routine with no knowledge of what's to come. We meet young sweethearts walking on the beach and families having little parties for their children. We meet the rich and famous residents of the area and recent immigrants who can't even speak English. These people have little in common except for being in close geographic proximity to one another but they are all about to have much in common for Mother Nature is no respecter of wealth or power and has no pity on the poor. Once the storm hits Scotti paints a brilliant picture of the disaster in progress. Her words are so beautifully descriptive that the reader will almost be able to hear the wind and feel the surging sea. The eyewitness accounts that she relies on describe in vivid detail the destruction of buildings and the struggles of those caught in the storm's fury. Best of all, she conveys the emotion of the moment as she describes tragedy after tragedy and conveys a feeling for the victims that historical writers seldom achieve. Through Scotti's words the reader will almost be moved to tears as a father watches helplessly as his children are swept away and will also feel the fear that gripped those who were just holding on for dear life. As is always the c

Wonderful Book!

I admit it. I am a severe weather junkie. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, tidal waves, earthquakes-any drama wrought by nature appeals to me. In fact, I found this book by accident when looking for a book on the 1888 blizzard. Many people who write nonfiction stories such as this rely on their experience as a journalist (i.e.; Sebastian Junger who wrote The Perfect Storm). Instead, Scotti, a fiction author of thrillers, sets the book up like a novel. Yes, there are a lot of meteorological details but it's the human drama that she succeeds with best. Using newspaper accounts and interviews with survivors, Scotti describes the "heartbreak, heroism, the incredible luck and the tragic misfortune of individuals and families."One of the reasons it took me so long to read this book was that I was continually looking up pictures and info on the internet and looking at maps. This storm wreaked havoc on all of New England, but was particularly devastating to Rhode Island, wiping one little community completely off the map. Scotti takes these personal stories and weaves them together in a gripping way that keeps the reader turning the page at a feverish pace by the end trying to find out the fate of the families she writes about.

"A strange ochre light came off the ocean..."

Powerful hurricanes are infrequent visitors to New England, but `The Long Island Express' not only paid a visit---it dropped in unannounced on September 21, 1938 just as many summer residents were on the beach and closing up their ocean-front cottages, among them actress Katharine Hepburn and her mother. 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.

a wicked sea, and a wonderful book

As an avid fan of all things weather-related, this book does not dissapoint. Much like Sebastian Unger's Perfect Storm, Sudden Sea focusses on an entire region that is caught off-guard by what in all estimates is still today one of the most devestatingly powerful storms the United States has seen. Scotti a does a wonderful job of intertwining story-lines stretching up and down the Eastern seaboard,further illustrating just how ill-prepared the population was for this freak storm. Imagine not one by one, the middle-atlantic and new england coastlines being so devestated that cities were unable of warning the next. This is what happened in the summer of 1938. A storm that moved so fast and with such destruction that it literally reshaped the Eastern Coastline. Buy this book. If you ever want to catch a glimpse into the humanity that becomes us in the face of disaster, this is a wonderful read. Read it before it becomes a movie -- which in all estimates it soon should be.

beautiful and dramatic

I picked this book up on a whim and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. Not having been alive in 1938 I knew very little about this disaster before reading Ms.Scotti's well reserched book. The way she weaves personal stories so seamlessly with the factual information creates a riviting tale of a way of life that would never fuloly be seen again. Ms.Scotti talks about the death and destrction that ravaged the east coast (682 deaths, 432 in Rhode Island alone) but she also talks about the amazing, and in some instaces humorus ways that people surrived the storm. One of the things that I really love about the book is that it is so full of information and stories, yet I never felt confused or lost, I can't say that for many of the books I have read these days. I think Ms.Scotti is one of the most gifted writers I have had the pleasure of reading. Her ability to tug at your heart strings and not have it be in least bit over done is very refreshing. Personaly I think she is a breath of air as welcome as the sea breeze that must have been blowing along the beach only hours before the storm touched down. I can not wait to read her next book.
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