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The Johnstown Flood | [David McCullough]

The Johnstown Flood

At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon.
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Publisher's Summary

At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal.

Graced by David McCullough's remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing portrait of life in 19th-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. This is a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are behaving responsibly.

©1968 David McCullough; (P)2005 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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  •  
    Susan K Donley Oakmont, PA United States 06-17-05
    Susan K Donley Oakmont, PA United States 06-17-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A page-turner! HIstory that reads like a novel"

    This is one of the best books I've read on any subject. It is as well-researched as a good history and as superbly paced as a well-written novel. I first read it about ten years ago, making the mistake of starting it in the evening. I ended up staying up all night to finish it! Then I lent it to my brother, who also stayed up all night to finish it! I recently reread it via audiobook -- it is still as gripping as ever!

    The story of the Great Johnstown (PA) Flood of 1889, the result of a record-setting rainstorm speeding the failure of an earthen dam, was the top story of its day. The catastrophe, in which over 2,200 were killed, dominnated the front pages of newspapers around the world just as the terrorist strikes of September11, 2001 did in our generation. In fact, until 9/11, it was the single largest loss of American civilian lives in one day (the greater number of deaths of Galveston hurricane disaster of 1903 happened over several days).

    Despite the media attention the Flood recieved in its day, it has been all but forgotten to most Americans. Yet it has plenty of lessons to teach the 21st century: altering the environment without consiering the consequences begs disaster; people in positions of authority (the owners of the dam was a secretive club whose members included the likes of industry moguls Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick) don't necessarily act responsibly. The better side of human nature also shines through: despite the fact that their home towns nearly scoured off the map, the survivors of the Flood began almost immediately rebuilding their homes and businesses. The world responded to stories of the Flood with an unprecedented out-pouring of charity.

    The Johnstown Flood is still relevant today and David McCullough is just the writer to bring its riveting story to life

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Austell, GA, USA 06-24-05
    Ken Austell, GA, USA 06-24-05 Member Since 2003
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    "Best I've Heard"

    In my 2.5 years as an audible listner, this is the best work I have so far listened to!
    The author does an excellent job in setting up the background leading up to the envents that it made me feel as if I was there on that fateful day watching the turn of events.
    Also, the reader, Edward Hermann could not have done a finer job.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda new rochelle, NY, USA 07-21-05
    Brenda new rochelle, NY, USA 07-21-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Great Narrator"

    Having listened to quite a number of audible selections, including numerous McCullough books, I am quite sure that this narrator is the best of the best. I hope he produces more recordings because he adds so much by his natural and unadorned narrative style that any book he would read, would be worth hearing.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 03-29-08
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 03-29-08 Member Since 2006
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    Story
    "The story behind the lyrics..."

    I first heard a reference to this American tragedy from the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's _Nebraska_ album in the early 1980s, and knew it must have been really bad.

    This book tells the whole story of the events of that day, as well as what led up to it, the tragic aftermath, and the stories of the heroes and heroines both during the flood, and those who helped the survivors, including Clara Barton, who chaired the American Red Cross in its first major peacetime relief effort.

    Meticulously researched, and for the most part, very well written by Mr. McCullough. Listeners should note that the chapter numbering for each part of the book starts at 1, and it's easy to lose track of where you are...

    Very well read by Mr. Herrmann.

    Highly recommended!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allan Morristown, NJ, United States 11-26-09
    Allan Morristown, NJ, United States 11-26-09
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    "Like You Were There"

    As the title states, to hear this book is like you were there. A lover of history will surely like this.....an amazing event described wonderfully and narrated very well.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank Gallinaro Auburn, NH United States 08-26-07
    Frank Gallinaro Auburn, NH United States 08-26-07 Member Since 2007

    Lover of good ideas

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    "A little piece of American history"

    David McCullough has written another excellent book on a little piece of American history. To the nation this was not a momentous event but to the people of Johnstown and the surrounding towns it was a matter of life or death. Several towns in PA were destroyed in hours by the unrelenting flood caused by the failure of an earthen dam. It is a story about our country of which I was unware. David revealed the unscruplous behavior of certain men, but also the generousity of Americans in the face of the tradegy of their fellow citizens. He descibed the heroism of many men and woman and the life or death result of the flood which seemed almost to be the result of the roll of the die.

    Well worth a read if you like American history and you will certainly come away with a new understanding of a small part of our nation's history written in clear prose by a master historian.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David West Newton, MA, USA 09-15-06
    David West Newton, MA, USA 09-15-06 Member Since 2004
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    "Another Good Listen"

    David McCullough has done it, yet again. A great story of this significnat tragedy told in a compelling manner. Hermann does his usual good job in keeping the story moving along. I was interested particularly with the post-flood stories and also of the many myths that came from the flood in later years.
    Highly recommend

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Mitchell Edina, MO USA 07-21-06
    Ken Mitchell Edina, MO USA 07-21-06 Member Since 2006

    sabbath999

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    "Vivid"

    The story of the Johnstown Flood is the story of America in the late 1880's... robber barons, the industrial revolution, a careless disregard for human life and safety, railroads and telegraphs, the power of nature overwhelming the works of man, heroism and cowardice, disaster on an unimaginable scale followed by compassion on an even greater level.

    This is the quintessential book about the flood, read by Edward Herman, one of the great actors of our day. It is detailed, fascinating and sobering.

    This book is for you.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Duncannon, PA, USA 03-03-06
    Michael Duncannon, PA, USA 03-03-06
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    "detailed and researched"

    Rich in detail and thoroughly researched. I am from the area where the flood occured and while listening feel that I am transported back in time.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Celia New Orleans LA 12-24-05
    Celia New Orleans LA 12-24-05 Member Since 2005
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    "Excellent book!"

    I highly recommend this to anyone. The individual stories of those caught in this disaster draw you right in alongside them and the story itself unfolds better than the best fiction. The reader is excellent, I think this is one of the few books which is better heard than read. I live in New Orleans and listened to this book while an evacuee in Houston after Hurricane Katrina. For anyone who has lived through Katrina and its aftermath, this book will have special relevance on many levels. This book is so good I plan to buy a copy of it as well. (It says I am in California but that is our mailing address - U.S. mail is still a disaster here in New Orleans. We have all our mail sent to California and then forwarded to us by UPS (which works)).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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