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.
This writing and narration really put you in the middle of the flood. So descriptive and gut-wrenching! Also, you will learn quite a bit about the class struggles, banking magnates, and feel of the times.
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.
The author has, once again, delivered the goods. A great historical tale about a (generationally) liitle known topic. I had always known about the flood, but never the details. McCullough is able to deliver a terrific work that is hard to put down. Edward Herrmann, better known in some of his acting roles as FDR or the Chrysler guy--uses his unusual and instantly recognizeable voice to deliver a book that you feel is being read like a good story with important parables. His other reads are equally wonderful by the way.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
"It had been the 'horrible tempest,' with flood and fire 'come as a destruction from the Almighty.' It had been awful, but it had been God awful."
― David McCullough, The Johnstown Flood
I was wrapping a couple of my first edition, eBay book purchases with mylar and discovered my first edition 'The Johnstown Flood' had a bit of water damage to the spine. I took this as a positive portent (ex dīrīs diluvium?) it was time to read it. One couldn't find a better divination that it is time to read a book unless one stumbles upon a pressed butterfly in a Nabokov or dirty photo in a Henry Miller at the Library (which reminds me I need to start carrying butterflies and McGill postcards into public libraries regularly).
I'm not sure what if there is a specific word for the disaster history genre, but I've recently read The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, and now I've just finished a flood history, I've read about volcanoes (Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded) and earthquakes (A Crack in the Edge of the World), so now I just need plagues and pestilence histories and I'll be able to fill my disaster dance card (programme du décès?).
This is McCullough's first book, published in 1968. He was an early master of strong narrative histories. Having been trained at Yale in English and almost fumbled by grace, accident, talent or opportunity into historical writing. Once he started publishing, Mccullough has almost never been a disappointment to his publishers. He now reigns as one of the supreme masters of American popular biography, along with Walter Isaacson, Jon Meacham, Joseph Ellis and Doris Kearns Goodwin. These are the Costco historian set. They aren't always the 'best' or most rigorous historians, but there is a certain skill in being able to carry a story to the historically, unwashed masses. There are certainly better academic historians (Burlingame, etc), but McCullough's skill at telling a story and bringing his story-telling flair to the 1889 Johnstown Flood, makes the history of this very American disaster not just a moving story, but a very good social history.
Lover of good ideas
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.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I had not read much about the cause of the flood or what made it such a epic tragedy, so I learned a lot from this book. I was impressed by the incredible courage of many of the townspeople attempting to save themselves, their families and their neighbors, but also saddened and appalled at the callousness of some of the club members whose arrogance contributed to the immensity of the damage and loss of life. A real eye opener into those times. Very well read as always by Edward Herrmann.
Devastating, Tragic, Inspiring
I didn't have a favorite character
Edward Herrmann was excellent! His voice and the way he read was perfect for this book. He was easy to listen to and read in a way that made me feel like I was watching rather than listening.
There were several parts of this book that made me feel very sad.
I read some of the other reviews before purchasing this book. I have to agree with the other reviews; this was one of the best books I have ever listened to. I have been to Johnstown Pennsylvania several times and I've heard a few things about the flood, but I had no idea how completely devastating it actually was. The detail in this book, along with Mr. Hermanns narration, make this a "must listen to" book for anyone who has any interest in the Johnstown Flood.
I knew nothing about Johnstown. I even had to look on Google Maps to see where it is. Now, I feel cheated that this was never covered in any history class I ever took. What a monumental event! McCullough makes the story very interesting and the reader is superb. I just finished "The Wright Brothers", which McCullough reads himself, but this reader is even better. If you have never heard f this event or know little about it, this is a must read for any fan of history.
He sure knows how to weave history with interesting personal stories, I grew up in the valley and thought I knew all about the flood, but I learned so much through this book!6
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.