Reviews - What do customers think about A Wind to Shake the World: The Story of the 1938 Hurricane?
Interesting story; needs editing and more Aug 20, 2008
This book is composed mainly of vignettes of people's lives as they were affected by the hurricane as it moved up the coast. It appears to be very well researched; especially considering it was written long after the fact. You experience individual and family disasters by the hundreds as the hurricane moves up the coast. Some were covered in a line or two; others in a page or two. While I initially enjoyed reading about each event, by the time it got to Massachusetts, I was wishing a good editor had excised about 25% of them. I found myself skimming by then and wishing it would end.
I'm not sure if the earlier hardback had photos or maps but the paperback had neither. I eventually got out some old National Geographic maps so I could follow the story. Surely there were some good photos that could have added a lot. At least there is a photo on the cover. Still, an interesting story of a unique (so far) event.
Can't Look Away Nov 1, 2007
An absolutely terrifying example of what nature can do to mankind. Well written, and the author makes you feel like you are there, experiencing the horror. You simply cannot look away from what is happening before your very eyes. Some of the stories of what happened to people affected by the hurricane will make you weep, they're so sad. I recommend this book to anyone interested in history or natural disasters.
The Heartbreaking New England Hurricane of Sept. '38 Aug 30, 2006
This is an excellent book, written by the late New England journalist Everett S. Allen, who actually lived through and covered the hurricane for his area newspaper. Because he grew up and had lived in many of the severely affected areas, he wrote with great knowledge and feeling, and you will finish reading the book with the feeling that you have actually gone through that terrible September 21 and its aftermath with the citizens of New England. This is a sad, but fascinating subject matter, and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys American, and/or New England history. It is truly a great story of the indomitable spirit of the those who had to face a crippling hurricane, head on, with no prior warnings available to them that a killer storm was approaching a place where hurricanes were not in the scope of their reality. Read this book!
A deadly hurricane called 'The Long Island Express' Apr 25, 2001
Powerful hurricanes are infrequent visitors to New England. '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. The weatherman gave no cause for alarm. "Cloudy skies and gusty conditions" did nothing to warn New Englanders of the imminent arrival of a 500-mile wide hurricane with peak wind gusts of 180 miles an hour.
This is how the book jacket of "A Wind to Shake the World" describes the coming of the storm:
"No one could have been prepared for the storm's ferocity. Sweeping suddenly northward from Cape Hatteras, building tremendous momentum as it advanced, the hurricane raced over six hundred miles in only twelve hours. Winds of 100 to 130 miles an hour and swiftly rising water of almost tidal-wave proportions slammed into the shore from South Jersey to Boston, most severely from Long Island to Cape Cod."
The hurricane struck Long Island around 3:30 PM. Few of the summer folk or permanent residents on the Island's south shore had a chance to escape, as waves between thirty and fifty feet high pounded the coastline.
Entire homes and families were swept into the ocean.
September 21st 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.'
It took Allen over thirty years to recover from his own traumatic experiences during the storm, and write about one of the most under-reported natural disasters of 20th century America. Six hundred New Englanders were killed in less than twelve hours, and yet it is very difficult to find accounts of the hurricane that came to be called "The Long Island Express". I first heard of it in a story told by one of my Down East relatives---
"On the day of the hurricane, a Yankee farmer received a package containing a barometer that he had ordered through the mail. No matter how many times he tapped it, the mercury remained stuck at the bottom of the glass. Finally, he re-packaged the 'broken' barometer and returned it to the post office. By the time he got back to his own property, his house had washed out to sea."
If you are an armchair junkie of natural disaster stories such as "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History," you should definitely read "A Wind to Shake the World." Although the survivors were interviewed over thirty years after the hurricane, Allen wrote that some of them still wept, "to see again the sick color of sky and sea on that day, to hear the scream of the wind, which was everywhere...to see man himself, face down and weaving like weed in the roiling shallows or open-mouthed and still, half-buried in the damp sand."