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Book Review

‘November’s Fury’ notes important American history

12/4/2013

bookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Harriet Leitch

University of Minnesota Press 

Oct. 18, 2013

$24.95

HIV

127 pp.

Of the many centennials observed this year, the one of which little is heard is the Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913. The author, Michael Schumacher, specializes in books about the Great Lakes including the “Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” In “November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913,” he has written the history of a weather disaster beginning with hints of a turn in the weather to the awful aftermath of this huge storm. Included in the volume are many pictures and maps that help bring home to the reader the enormity of the disaster.

By the time the storm passed, 12 boats had sunk (eight of them in one day on Lake Huron), 31 more had been grounded and many more had been severely damaged. More than 250 men died. The book focuses on the boating impacts, but it also tells of the massive damage from the winds, snow and cold along the shores, similar to the damage caused by tropical hurricanes. The city of Cleveland was left with badly damaged transportation and communication systems and was virtually cut off from the rest of the nation.

A contributor to this weather disaster, similar to the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, was the reputation of the U.S. Weather Bureau at the time. The weather bureau was in its infancy, which meant there was little understanding of weather systems, and the collection of weather data was much more cumbersome. The last part of the shipping season was important in the Lakes’ financial life, and previously missed forecasts contributed greatly to decisions to ignore storm warnings. Schumacher’s work brings an important part of middle American history to life. CV                 

Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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