16 August 2009

Review: Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America by Jim Murphy

In the years before I started blogging I took notes on the books I read. Every once in a while I like to share some of those books with you. This time I highlight nonfiction.

Before I read this short book, I admit that I knew almost nothing about the great blizzard of March 12, 1888, in New York City. I was aware that 1888 was a bad winter, especially in the prairie states, but this book was an eye-opener. In just a few hours, New York City was hit with 21 inches of spring snow with absolutely no warning.

Murphy relied on historical documents and firsthand accounts to tell the story of that horrific day on the east coast. The book is a fascinating short history of the effects of a major storm system in the days before modern technology and includes gripping personal stories as it takes us through the events of the storm.

Because of this storm, New York pursued underground public transportation and buried telegraph and telephone wiring, the nation was made aware of the importance of long-range weather forecasting, and the federal government started looking into emergency and disaster planning.

I listened to the book (read by Taylor Mali), and it wasn't until I finished it that I realized the target audience is eleven years and up. Don't be put off by the middle reader rating; this is a book for everyone. Blizzard! is the winner of at least eight awards. The print version has historic photographs, drawings, and maps.

Here's a website with some photos.


Alyce 8/16/09, 12:36 PM  

This sounds like an informative book. It's nice to know about the good middle grade books out there - sometimes the age suggestion can be a turnoff.

bermudaonion 8/16/09, 12:59 PM  

I'd never heard of this blizzard, and the book sounds great!

Meghan 8/16/09, 1:08 PM  

I loved books like this when I was younger. I bet I'd still love them now. I should try this one - I've heard of the blizzard before, but like you only in reference to the prairie states.

Kailana 8/16/09, 1:15 PM  

This sounds really interesting. I don't know anything at all about the topic, so I think I will see if I can get a copy. :)

Molly 8/16/09, 1:30 PM  

This book sounds fascinating! Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention.

On a side note: how I wish I had the foresight to take notes on books I read; I feel as though I need to go back and re-read so many books to rediscover why I enjoyed them so much.

Margot at Joyfully Retired 8/16/09, 1:43 PM  

Right now I seem to be fascinated by events in the late 1800's. This sounds like it will feed right into that fascination. Plus, I love following the weather and how it affects people. Thanks for highlighting this book.

Sandy Nawrot 8/16/09, 5:19 PM  

I'm going to see if the library has this. I would love it! Growing up in Indiana, I have a fairly healthy appreciation of the blizzard, what it's like without heat for days, how you grow to appreciate all the canning that mom did, and how your family members can really get on your nerves! I bet you know all about this too! I also like the sound of it because it is history...true stories are often better than fiction!

Lenore 8/16/09, 5:22 PM  

This would be a great one to get for my goddaughter. Thanks!

Nymeth 8/16/09, 7:59 PM  

Thank you for the link - I love old photography and those are really impressive. And the book sounds fascinating.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) 8/16/09, 8:40 PM  

I love the idea of sharing books from "before the blog." I might borrow this idea from you and do the same ... once my backlog of current day reviews are caught up on! :)

Gwendolyn B. 8/16/09, 10:46 PM  

I'll definitely be looking for this book. It's not a kid's book, but have you read THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD by David Laskin? It's about an 1888 blizzard that hit the plains.

Penny 8/16/09, 11:29 PM  

This book sounds really interesting. As a Minnesotan (and before that, a Michigander) I have been through many, many small blizzards, but nothing compared to the one this book is about. 21 inches? That's insane!

Julie P. 8/17/09, 12:03 AM  

I know absolutely nothing about this! I bet Booking Daughter might enjoy it too!

stacybuckeye 8/17/09, 12:14 AM  

This sounds interesting. I bet my husband would love listening to it too.

Dar 8/17/09, 4:11 PM  

I've never heard of this happening. This sounds like something I'd like even if it's geared for a younger audience.

Jenners 8/19/09, 9:56 PM  

How interesting that the NYC subways came about because of this blizzard. I'll file that under "Things I Can Mention at A Party."

Veens 8/20/09, 1:39 AM  

I haven't heard anything about that at all.

I need to use Google, I will check this one out, that must have been a horrific winter by all means

Suko 2/8/10, 12:07 PM  

I came here from Becky's blog.

Thanks for a concise and interesting review.

Heather J. 7/31/10, 8:11 PM  

You summarized this much better than I did in my review, but I think we both can say that it was a great book!

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