Natural and Not-so-natural Disasters! True Stories of Hurricanes, Avalanches and... the Black Death

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906

By Simon Winchester

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Winchester brings his storytelling abilities, as well as his understanding of geology, to the extraordinary San Francisco Earthquake, exploring not only what happened in northern California in 1906 that leveled a city symbolic of America's relentless western expansion, but what we have learned since about the geological underpinnings that caused the earthquake.

Also available on audio.

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A Night to Remember

By Walter Lord

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"...a completely riveting account of the Titanic 's fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut-lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain.

"...Walter Lord's classic minute-by-minute re-creation is as vivid now as it was upon first publication fifty years ago. From the initial distress flares to the struggles of those left adrift for hours in freezing waters, this semicentennial edition brings that moonlit night in 1912 to life for a new generation of readers."

Also available on audio, and it was transformed into a 1958 film featuring Honor Blackman and David McCallum.

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A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout

By Carl Safina

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"The first book about the BP disaster by a world-renowned oceanographer examines the environmental and social consequences of the spill from the perspective of those directly affected by it. By telling the stories of three working families, Safina goes behind the scenes with fishermen, oystermen, and oilmen whose lives--and habitats--have been irreparably changed. But will energy and environmental policy change as well? Safina addresses these issues in a rich, deeply personal investigation of a catastrophe he has reported--and blogged on--from the beginning."

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Disaster! The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906

By Dan Kurzman

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"Just after 5 A.M. on April 18, 1906, an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale ripped through sleeping San Francisco, toppling buildings, exploding gas mains, and trapping thousands of citizens beneath tons of stone, broken wood, and twisted metal. Herds of cattle stampeded madly through the streets. The air reverberated with the panicked screams of the doomed and dying. And then came the fires: hellish, gasfueled conflagrations so hot that molten glass ran down gutters. A mother crushed the skull of her trapped son with a rock so he wouldn't burn alive. A couple defiantly went ahead with their wedding even as the flames closed in.

"Rats from boats that smuggled prostitute slaves into Chinatown began to spread bubonic plague through the city. With water mains destroyed, firemen could only stand and watch for three terrifying days as the fires consumed the remains left by the earthquake. Adding to the terror were soldiers, some drunk, who shot, bayoneted, or hanged in the street at least five hundred suspected looters and other often innocent victims. As many as ten thousand people died in the catastrophe."

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Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

By Dominique Lapierre, Javier Moro

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"...the unforgettable story of the tragic industrial accident in Bhopal, India, that killed nearly 30,000 people.It was December 3, 1984. In the ancient city of Bhopal, a cloud of toxic gas escaped from an American pesticide plant, killing and injuring thousands of people. When the noxious clouds cleared, the worst industrial disaster in history had taken place. Now, Dominique Lapierre brings the hundreds of characters, conflicts, and adventures together in an unforgettable tale of love, and hope. Readers will meet the poetry-loving factory worker who unleashes the apocalypse, the young Indian bride who was to be married that terrible night, and the doctors who died that night saving others."

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Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It

By Gina Kolata

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"In 1918, the Great Flu Epidemic felled the young and healthy virtually overnight. An estimated forty million people died as the epidemic raged. Children were left orphaned and families were devastated. As many American soldiers were killed by the 1918 flu as were killed in battle during World War I. And no area of the globe was safe. Eskimos living in remote outposts in the frozen tundra were sickened and killed by the flu in such numbers that entire villages were wiped out. Scientists have recently rediscovered shards of the flu virus frozen in Alaska and preserved in scraps of tissue in a government warehouse. Gina Kolata, an acclaimed reporter for The New York Times, unravels the mystery of this lethal virus with the high drama of a great adventure story. Delving into the history of the flu and previous epidemics, detailing the science and the latest understanding of this mortal disease, Kolata addresses the prospects for a great epidemic recurring, and, most important, what can be done to prevent it."

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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

By Jon Krakauer

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Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Mount Everest. Five climbers died, and another was badly injured in the rogue storm that swept Everest in May of 1996. This book is available on audio and was also adapted into a movie version.

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Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

By Erik Larson

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"In 1900, 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."

Also available on audio.

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Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883

By Simon Winchester

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"When Krakatoa, an island volcano off the coast of Java, erupted on August 27, 1883, it spewed debris 24 miles into the air, was heard 4000 miles away, and caused barometers throughout Europe to go berserk. Tsunamis destroyed 165 villages and killed 36,417 people, but... the eruption's devastating effects were not only environmental ... but also political. Winchester notes that prior to the eruption, a Javanese Muslim priest had predicted that floods, blood-colored rain, volcanic eruptions, and death would precede the beginning of a holy war against the infidel. The resulting rash of murderous attacks by fundamentalist Muslims against European colonists living in their midst, he argues, was also a reaction to the escalating threat of Western imperialism into Muslim territory".
(From Library Journal)

Also available on audio and in a children's edition.

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Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America

By John M. Barry

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"In 1927, the Mississippi swept across an area roughly equal in size to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined, leaving water as deep as thirty feet.... Close to a million people ... were forced out of their homes. Rising Tide is the story of this forgotten event. Rising Tide is an American epic about science, race, honor, politics, and society."

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