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Storm Kings

America's First Tornado Chasers

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book

With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations

In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin retraces America's fascination and unique relationship to tornadoes and the weather. From Ben Franklin's early experiments, to "the great storm debates" of the nineteenth century, to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin shows how tornado chasing helped foster the birth of meteorology, recreating with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America's history. Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and numerous archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists that changed a nation and how successive generations came to understand and finally coexist with the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

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With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations

In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin retraces America's fascination and unique relationship to tornadoes and the weather. From Ben Franklin's early experiments, to "the great storm debates" of the nineteenth century, to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin shows how tornado chasing helped foster the birth of meteorology, recreating with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America's history. Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and numerous archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists that changed a nation and how successive generations came to understand and finally coexist with the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

Product Details
Paperback (320 pages)
Published: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307473585
Other books byLee Sandlin
  • The Distancers

    The Distancers
    An American Memoir
    In The Distancers, seven generations worth of joy and heartache is artfully forged into a family portrait that is at once universally American yet singularly Lee Sandlin's own. From the nineteenth century German immigrants who settled on a small Midwestern farm, to the proud and upright aunts and uncles with whom Sandlin spent the summers of his youth, a whole history of quiet ambition and stoic pride—of successes, failures, and above all endurance—leaps off the page in a sweeping American family epic. Touching on The Great Depression, WWII, and the American immigrant experience, The Distancers is a beautiful and stark Midwestern drama, about a time and place long since vanished, where the author learned the value of family and the art of keeping one's distance.

    Wicked River

    Wicked River
    The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild
    A riveting narrative look at one of the most colorful, dangerous, and peculiar places in America's historical landscape: the strange, wonderful, and mysterious Mississippi River of the 19th century.   Beginning in the early 1800s and climaxing with the siege of Vicksburg in 1863, Wicked River brings to life a place where river pirates brushed elbows with future presidents and religious visionaries shared passage with thieves. Here is a minute-by-minute account of Natchez being flattened by a tornado; the St. Louis harbor being crushed by a massive ice floe; hidden, nefarious celebrations of Mardi Gras; and the sinking of the Sultana, the worst naval disaster in American history. Here, too, is the Mississippi itself: gorgeous, perilous, and unpredictable. Masterfully told, Wicked River is an exuberant work of Americana that portrays a forgotten society on the edge of revolutionary change.

    Storm Kings

    Storm Kings
    The Untold History of America's First Tornado...
    With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations From the acclaimed author of Wicked River comes Storm Kings, a riveting tale of supercell tornadoes and the quirky, pioneering, weather-obsessed scientists whose discoveries created the science of modern meteorology.   While tornadoes have occasionally been spotted elsewhere, only the central plains of North America have the perfect conditions for their creation. For the early settlers the sight of a funnel cloud was an unearthly event. They called it the “Storm King,” and their descriptions bordered on the supernatural: it glowed green or red, it whistled or moaned or sang. In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin explores America’s fascination with and unique relationship to tornadoes. From Ben Franklin’s early experiments to the “great storm war” of the nineteenth century to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin re-creates with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America’s history, including the Tri-state Tornado of 1925 and the Peshtigo “fire tornado,” whose deadly path of destruction was left encased in glass.   Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists who changed a nation—including James Espy, America’s first meteorologist, and Colonel John Park Finley, who helped place a network of weather “spotters” across the country. Along the way, Sandlin details the little-known but fascinating history of the National Weather Service, paints a vivid picture of the early Midwest, and shows how successive generations came to understand, and finally coexist with, the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

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