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The Johnstown Flood Paperback – January 15, 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
This book completely changed my opinion of the Johnstown area and its history. I can't believe how many natives of Johnstown have never read this book. I have recommended this book to many people and not one has ever told me he or she didn't sink themselves into the book and become part of the story.
I now work in Johnstown again. Every workday I drive by the stone bridge that was described so prominently in the book. In my mind I can picture the victims and the debris piled up against the structure. Sometimes I can even hear the water, the flames, and the cries for help. This book is that well written!
If you're from Johnstown and you haven't read this book . . . Shame on you! If you're not from Johnstown, still read this book. Then . . . come to Johnstown and see for yourself what David McCullough brought to life through his writing!
This is definitely a book you'll never forget.
Don't stop here. Read David McCullough's other books.Read more ›
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.
McCullough relates the history of the South Fork property on which the dam and lake were located, including the purchase of this property by rich men from Pittsburgh, among them Carnegie, Frick, Mellon, and Horne. They formed the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, a mountain resort, and built a clubhouse for use by members. Sixteen members also built large "cottages" around the 350-acre lake that had been formed by the earthen dam which was first built between 1840 and 1850. When these men bought the property in 1879, the dam had been totally neglected so "repairs" were made. Unfortunately, no engineer had anything to do with these repairs, which consisted mostly of throwing junk, branches, rocks, and hay against the dam. During this time, the outlet pipes at the bottom of the dam were removed and sold as scrap. Other ingredients in this recipe for disaster were the pipes that were put in near the dam to prevent fish from leaving the lake. These would also, it was found later, allow debris to build up and cause water to spill over the dam more easily.
The inevitable occurred in 1889, on Memorial Day, when a huge storm caused the lake to rise above the dam. With no outlet pipes to lower the level of the water, the water poured over the top, at the center.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating history lesson! I had no idea of the destruction and devastation. A tremendous story of the events leading up to this tragic event and the impact on the lives of... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
McCullough is a genius at making the reader feel like he was there when the events he describes are taking place.Published 11 days ago by Kathi L. Holmes
Great documentation, but it seemed repetitious,, and finally got rather tiresome.Published 17 days ago by Terry Wright
Oh, my! I had no idea how terrible the extent of the damage from this flood and that the underlying cause was human "error" ~ or, was it really error or mismanagement for... Read morePublished 25 days ago by Jo Shafer
A fabulous account by a terrific writer. Through careful and thorough research, McCullough introduces the reader to numerous characters and then follows them as the adventure... Read morePublished 28 days ago by bholmes
Starts out a little slow but it's a very good read. Fascinating story about an important event in American history.Published 1 month ago by Richard S. Lee