Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (Adventure Press)

Willie Drye

Published by National Geographic, 2002
ISBN 10: 0792280105 / ISBN 13: 9780792280101
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Synopsis: This is the first full-length book that details the tragic hurricane of 1935, one of the greatest disasters of our time, and places it in historical context. Interviews with survivors, including workers, local business owners, and government officials, and previously unavailable documents from the investigation contribute to the historical relevance of this account and present the disaster from multiple points of view. At the height of the Great Depression, disaster struck: a hurricane with 200 mile-per-hour winds and a storm surge of more than 20 feet--the "storm of the century"--according to weather officials. In two days the storm killed more than 400 people, devastating a community of workers and raising a storm of controversy in its wake. At the center of the story are hundreds of down-and-out World War I veterans who were sent to the Keys to work on a federal construction project; a highway linking Miami and Key West. More than 300 of them would die in the hurricane of 1935. But the story of this catastrophe goes far beyond the death toll. Told from the point of view of multiple eyewitnesses including workers, business owners, and government officials, Storm of the Century is the first in-depth explanation of how the economic crisis of the Depression, political expediency, the best and worst of human nature, and the unimaginable power of the strongest hurricane in history ever to strike the United States combined to cause national tragedy in the reomote Florida Keys. When reports of a hurricane began reaching Florida in late August of 1935, Federal Administrators ignored warnings and waited until it was too late to try to get the workers out of harm's way. The political maneuvering that followed the tragedy obscured details of the event and very nearly cost Franklin Delano Roosevelt the election of 1936. Will Drye tells of the astonishing power of this once-in-a-lifetime storm and its aftermath with gripping detail.

From Publishers Weekly: On Labor Day in 1935, a hurricane that produced the record low barometric pressure reading of 26.35 inches hit Florida's upper Keys, destroying virtually everything in its path. In his meticulously researched work, Drye gives a vivid, detailed account of the storm's approach and impact when it made landfall. Drye was drawn to the story of the unnamed hurricane not only because of its intensity, but also because it killed nearly 260 World War I veterans who were building a highway as part of a federal construction program. Living in flimsy huts built in low-lying areas, the veterans' only chance to survive the storm was evacuation, a move officials were too slow to order. The first two-thirds of the book, which includes a terrific description of the Keys around the turn of the century (when Key West was Florida's largest city), is especially gripping, punctuated with first-hand survivor accounts of the storm's fury. Responsibility for the deaths of the veterans became a political football, and the blatantly partisan investigation that ensued will have a timeless resonance for followers of American politics. But Drye overreaches when he suggests that full disclosure about the disaster could have caused problems for FDR's reelection bid; the author is on far safer ground as a weather historian than as a political commentator. (Sept.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Title: Storm of the Century: The Labor Day ...
Publisher: National Geographic
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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