Exceptionally well written account of a horrifying disaster.
Feb 11, 2010
Like the author R.A. Scotti, I am a native Rhode Islander who grew up hearing stories of the great Hurricane of 1938. Take just one look at the photograph on the cover of "Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938" and you will immediately appreciate the terror that overtook people on that steamy September afternoon. In Rhode Island, it had been a mostly sunny but hot day. All of the sudden the sky turned an ominous yellow. And within a very short time driving rains and winds of well over 100 MPH were pounding the area. And no one, not one single person, had any idea it was coming!
Having read a number of books on disasters, I have found that most disasters are usually a convergence of any number of unfortunate circumstances. And so it was on Long Island and throughout much of New England on that fateful day. While there was some limited ability to forecast hurricanes in those days, no one was prepared for, nor could they have predicted the path, the speed or the destructive potential of this monster storm. The simple fact of the matter is that even in this day and age with all of our sophisticated equipment, experts agree that they cannot forecast the behavior of a hurricane more than 24 hours in advance.
In "Sudden Sea" R.A. Scotti introduces the reader to a number of families who found themselves suddenly caught up in the Hurricane of 1938. They are a pretty diverse bunch, ranging from well-heeled old money clans on the Hamptons to working class stiffs who owned small cottages on the Rhode Island coast. Some of her subjects would not make it through that afternoon. And for those lucky enough to survive life would never be the same. For instance, in one area of Charlestown RI on the southern RI coast there were 700 summer homes at 3:00 that afternoon. By the time the storm moved away around sunset there was absolutely nothing left! And this was not a unique scenario by any means. It was repeated over and over again throughout southern New England. The storm would claim over 700 lives and injure 2000 more. The hurricane cost more than $4.7 billon (with a "b") in todays dollars. This hurricane was so powerful and fast moving that hurricane winds were felt as far north as Burlington, Vermont.
I do a great deal of reading about history, politics and current events. I would have to say that "Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938" is one of the best written books I have ever read. R.A. Scotti is a real wordsmith and I really appreciated her abilty to turn a phrase. I could not put this one down. Very highly recommended!!!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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It was the Perfect Storm that landed. The Great Hurricane of 1938 raged like the mid-ocean inferno of Sebastian Junger's book, but it battered the Atlantic Coast, savaging New York and New England with unprecedented force. In Sudden Sea, Providence journalist and storm-watcher R. A. Scotti follows the trail of a meteorological disaster that affected an entire generation.