72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Hair-raising Disaster embedded in social history,
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This review is from: The Johnstown Flood (Paperback)
David McCullough firmly embeds his devastating account of the Johnstown Flood in the social history of late 19th century America. The pre-flood history of the small Pennsylvania mountain villages brought to mind a combination of "The Music Man" and the "dark, satanic mills" of the Industrial Revolution (steel, in this case). Throw in a mixture of class war and the prejudice of the 'native' Americans versus the recently arrived Eastern European immigrants, and the book tells a good story even without the advent of the flood.
However, the Johnstown flood is the heart of McCullough's story and he does a very good job in building up to the book's compelling climax. When the dam above Johnstown finally gives way, you will already be on the edge of your reading chair. As usual, in a story about a disaster, there are incredibly brave people and also incredibly foolish ones. I wish McCullough had told us a bit more about the post-flood lives of some of his heroes and heroines, but that is the only real fault I can find with his story. A book like this always makes me wonder how I would have reacted in the midst of the chaos, flood, and fire that was Johnstown on May 31, 1889.