Catastrophes and Heroes

True Stories of Man-Made Disasters

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Pub Date 05 Jan 2021 | Archive Date 19 May 2020

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A century of the industrial age saw unprecedented leaps in technology and engineering, from the first flight of an airplane to the first flight of humans to the moon. But alongside these awe-inspiring achievements were horrible disasters caused by faulty engineering or careless judgement. Catastrophes and Heroes explores eight such disasters and recognizes the unheralded heroes who stepped up to save others in times of great danger.

Included in this collection are the stories of female phone operators who, despite being in the path of destruction after the Los Angeles St. Francis Dam collapsed in 1928, stayed on the job to warn others to evacuate, Ernest Hemingway, who assisted survivors in his own boat after a hurricane destroyed the Florida East Coast Railway in 1935, and Ernest Betts who, though knowing little first aid, saved thirty people after the streamliner train The City of San Francisco crashed in the Nevada mountains in 1939.

Filled with little-known stories and historical insights, this book explores the rich history of the marvels of engineering and technological advances in the span of a century and reveals how the perils, though disastrous, gave rise to heroism and compassion at a time when machines were supposed to do it all.

A century of the industrial age saw unprecedented leaps in technology and engineering, from the first flight of an airplane to the first flight of humans to the moon. But alongside these...

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ISBN 9781629727394
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Featured Reviews

Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters was an interesting read. I am giving it four stars.

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***Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.***

4 stars

I found this book to be very enjoyable, considering the subject material. The story consisted of 8 chapters, each covering different disasters from 1865 – 1963, all which ultimately were found to be man-made. The only one that I had heard about was the Labor Day hurricane that devastated Florida in 1935.

Each story gave a breakdown of what led to each disaster (greed, malice, engineering misunderstandings of the time period), but also of the heroism of those that stepped in to assist in each case.

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First of all, I have to confess that I probably love this book so much because my under grad degree is in History. The stories the author chose to share really explore the breath and depth of our humanity. If you’re a fan of trains, bridges, dams or have an engineering background you will fall in love with us book. Even though the stories take place in different times and places, there is a common thread that goes through them all. I like to think that each of the stories in this book shows that the good in people ultimately outweighs the bad.

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This was a fascinating book. I liked how the author broke down each of the events into sections. The only event I've heard of before was the Tacoma one. Thus it was fascinating to read about other disasters that history doesn't touch on, perhaps because they are man made. Each story is a book into itself but they were told succinctly and thoroughly to understand the cause and effect. I look forward to more of this authors work.

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I enjoyed reading about parts of history that I'd never heard about before. It is sobering to read about unnecessary deaths caused by human greed and poor planning, often at a time when it was not exactly illegal to do the acts that endangered lives. I'm glad that the heroes are included, too, since their work to save lives at the time and/or in the future ended each chapter on a more cheerful note.

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This book was really interesting, it's kinda scary when you read all the man-made disasters that we've caused. I thought the author had done their research well and kept the book interesting.

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The industrial era brought many advancements to the world. But with progress comes the risk for things to go horribly wrong. Here is a collection of eight man-made disasters that could have been avoided.

Of the disasters contained in this book, I was only really aware of the one: the 1865 steamship Sultana catastrophe. Even then, I only knew it had happened and not the circumstances surrounding it. With each disaster, the author outlines who the victims were, why it happened, the heroes who tried to help, and the good that came from the situation.

The author narrows down three causes for the eight disasters he outlines: malice (sabotage to a high-speed train in 1939), greed (the Sultana and 1963's Vajont Dam in Italy), and finally hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence) for the other five stories. I would say all of them come down to someone having a gross lack of respect for human life.

Since I read an advance reader copy, I did not see the pictures that will be included in the final version. These, I think, will add something more to the book, and I look forward to seeing these when the book releases.

For readers looking for a sobering look at real-life tragedies, I would recommend this.

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Borrowman succinctly writes about eight tragic events that may be lesser known than, say Titanic, but equally catastrophic. He details the events (told in chronological order), the human costs, the causes, and also how these events forged changes to prevent similar situations in the future. This is an exceptional book that I would recommend to readers interested in human nature, true-life calamities, and in history. Thank you to Netgalley for my review copy.

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I am naturally interested in disasters and this book did not disappoint. Outside of the Key West Hurricane, I had not read about or known about the catastrophes that the author outlined.
All told there was 8 catastrophes that the author outlined, gave a brief synopsis, and then commented about the heroes who came to the victims' aid.
Overall it was a great, brief read. The author kept it brief and left the reader to explore the event further.
The one drawback that I had was the author's analysis of "malice" after the tragedies.
Some of the catastrophes were without malice. The Key West Hurricane comes to mind, no malice, just ignorance of hurricanes.
Good writing and good development of the 8 tragedies.

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This is a fascinating book. There are eight different stories illustrating five different elements; an overview of the disaster, the fateful choices that led to the disaster, the consequences, the heroic efforts, and lessons learned. I especially loved learning about the heroes and lessons learned. This is an incredible book and one I highly recommend.

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This interesting and informative book examines eight disasters that occurred during the 19th and 20th century. It describes how and why they occurred and the subsequent lessons that were learnt. Failures of design and construction, neglect, hubris, malpractice, greed and even sabotage are encountered here.

Interestingly there is one bridge disaster that occurred not far from where I now live and one still senses a feeling of foreboding when crossing the now entirely safe replacement. Also in the book are stories of the bravery and heroics of the first responders. This proved a most fascinating read and is recommended for those with an interest in history and also an inquisitiveness into how things can go so disastrously wrong.

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As a person who reads a lot, I wanted to read this book because I love reading about real life things. I love reading about catastrophes and the heroes that help bring life back to normal. This book is just how I envisioned it would be and so much more. The stories captured real life and I can promise you that you won't have to worry about if it really happened or not. Either way I highly suggest reading this book. I do plan on buying it when it comes out so that I can allow my daughter to read it.

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Free ARC from Net Galley, the "ship of readers"!!!!!

Note to writers, here is a good example for you. Good prose and pace, 8 disasters with the what, where, and why format. Listen, if it happened it CAN happen only bigger and worse. read and heed here with this GREAT book. Very well done.

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This was an excellent delve into forgotten historical events that impacted current regulations. Although the background story was fascinating, the authors intentional focus on the heroes of each incident is what is captivating and brings the human side of tragedy to life

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4 out of 5 🌟Detailed and uplifting

Non-fiction books and stories about various true crime and tragedies were always popular. There's something captivating about reading about all the horrible events in history from the safety of our own reading nook. And even if homicides are way too scary for me, I'd love to read about the brave people who made history by saving lives. 'Catastrophes and Heroes' is a work about man-made disasters that could be avoided and about saviors who put their lives in jeopardy for others.

The book focuses on less known events, mostly skipped by the history books. Each story includes sections with an overview of the event (full of testimonies of eyewitnesses), choices, and circumstances that lead to the tragedy, also information about victims, and heroes. Jerry Borrowman made w humongous work researching information for his book. Each story is so in-dept, it felt like being an eyewitness myself. 'Catastrophes and Heroes' show also historical background and the stories behind peoples' decisions.

It's a delightful book for every history geek and catastrophes junkie. It's a profusely detailed in-depth work to show that each tragedy could be avoided only if people were less egoistic, greed and proud. Nevertheless, it also shows bravery and heroism that lives in people and reveals itself during the times of struggle.

<i>Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and feelings are my own.</i>

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A fascinating look into history that is little known except to the communities that were most impacted. Jerry Borrowman has obviously done his research. The stories are well written, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions from the many, many facts he has provided. Eight life changing catastrophes and the human element that provides witness to each. Anyone looking for true life history stories not covered by mainstream literature will truly love this book, as did I. You will definitely be asking your friends and family....Did you know?

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I have to be in the right mood to read non-fiction, so I was a little hesitant to start this book, but I only got a few pages into it before I was hooked. I find history fascinating, especially when it's told in an entertaining way. Don't get me wrong, this book is not light reading material. The subject matter is pretty dark and depressing, honestly, but the author does a really good job of bringing the reader right into the situation.There were a few times when the technical terminology made it so I had a hard time picturing what was happening (mostly with the first bridge story) but overall, it was a quick and easy read.

I found myself heading to my tablet in-between stories to look up pictures and more information about some of the catastrophes, which I think is the perfect sign that it's a good story. I definitely recommend this book to all history buffs, or really, anyone who enjoys well-written non-fiction.

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This book was a good, factual non-fiction read. Not easily available, its one that had to be “wished” for as an advance read, and I was happy to get one. It would make a perfect companion on cold autumn or winter night, snuggled up with your favorite mug of hot cocoa and a warm throw. The author builds the tension, working up to the catastrophe. Then the event itself unfolds, in intense detail and heroes can come forth at any point along the timeline if people are lucky enough.

I’d never heard of these rather big events, but they weren’t apparently widely written about and took place in the century before I was born. So that makes it not all that surprising that its new to me. It also makes it more of an intriguing read. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jerry Borrowman, and the publisher.

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Thanks to the author, publishers and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book details 8 preventable disasters caused by the malice, greed or stupendous arrogance of people who, in most cases, never faced the consequences of their actions/inaction. I felt the terror and frustration with these stories keenly. But the uplifting stories of those who courageously helped survivors and of those who worked to prevent similar future tragedies did provide some relief.

There are villains and heroes aplenty in these pages - I can hardly believe they are real people and real events.

The stories of the 'Sultana' and the 'City of San Francisco' were the most interesting for me and I find myself wanting to know more about these catastrophes in particular.

This is a well-written, clearly presented book - although at times too technical for my tiny layperson brain. 4 stars.

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Jerry Borrowman writes some of my very favorite non-fiction books. He writes in a way that is very easily readable. And I really like the way he focuses his books on the people who experienced things.

This book was about catastrophes worldwide. I don’t think I’d heard of even one of them before reading the book. But now I’m interested in things like the Tay Bridge in Scotland or the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington. I’m going to have to see if I can find more information about these!

It’s hard to imagine being in one of these kinds of tragedies, but there are tons of people that have been. And there were heroes there too. It reminds me a little of the Fred Rogers quote about looking for the helpers. You’ll always find them, just when you need them the most. And that’s one of the main focuses of this book. I love that idea.

This is an excellent book that you can read fairly quickly. I loved everything about it!

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