One of AudioFile magazine's Best Voices of the Century and Publishers Weekly's Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005, Grover Gardner is the recipient of dozens of awards, and listeners will easily understand why. Gardner's diction is reminiscent of classic American radio and provides an evocative feeling to this non-fiction exploration of the molasses flood that overwhelmed Boston on January 15, 1919. The rough edge of Gardner's voice adds texture to its velvety sound as he describes the disaster and its context, easily weaving together the various elements involved, from Prohibition to the anarchist movement to immigration. Listeners will find themselves absorbed by this little-known catastrophe.
Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters were playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like, "a roaring surf," one of them said later. Like, "a runaway two-horse team smashing through a fence," said another. A third firefighter jumped up from his chair to look out a window - "Oh my God!" he shouted to the other men, "Run!" A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston's waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour. It demolished wooden homes, even the brick fire station. The number of dead wasn't known for days. It would be years before a landmark court battle determined who was responsible for the disaster.
©2003, 2004 Stephen Puleo (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
This is a compelling little known event in American history. Who knew that molasses had killed people and destroyed property? The author does a great job but the listener/reader has to wade through over 4 hours of minutiae before the account of the flood begins. That's about 1/2 of the whole book! I listened as far as the part of Chapter 3, then skipped several hours and picked up at Chapter 9 - the early morning hours before the molasses tank exploded. After that, the story flowed well with a good description of the disaster and it's aftermath. The length made it impossible for me to give the BOOK a 5-star rating - which I would have if I hadn't paid for a 9+ hour work with only 4 hours worth of listening.
What's worse is that Stephen Puleo writes an epilogue and then an epilogue to the epilogue! The latter consists of letters from the ancestors of the victims who knew little or nothing about the tragedy until reading this book. They provide a personal insight into their relatives. Then Puleo takes time to analyze this added information. However, with the in depth research done by Puleo, these observations would be better served in a revised edition to this book, rounding out the true characters in this tragedy.
Once again, a book better served ABRIDGED!
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