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June 18, 2008

Reading up on hurricanes

Posted: 10:24 AM ET

Here are a few of my favorite books on hurricanes for your summer reading pleasure. You might want to crack one of these open on the beach - assuming the beach isn't being evacuated for a hurricane.  None of these are new releases, but they're all keepers.

"Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms," by Mark Schleifstein and John McQuaid. These two journalists from the New Orleans Times-Picayune probably did their most important reporting on Hurricane Katrina more than two years before the storm wiped out much of their city. While they do an outstanding job of chronicling the way that the disaster was managed - and mis-managed, Schleifstein and McQuaid wrote an extensive series for their paper in 2002. "Washing Away" served as a full preview of what Katrina would do two years later.

"Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming" by Chris Mooney stakes out the sides in one of the most active scientific debates in climate science. Was Katrina and the rest of the hellacious 2005 hurricane season a herald of global warming? Or part of a natural cycle? Mooney looks beyond the ideological polemics and profiles the scientists on both side.

"The Great Hurricane of 1938" by Cherie Burns is a quick, compelling read on what a killer storm can do to the Northeast. The '38 storm tore through Long Island and Connecticut, wiped out a sandspit resort community in Rhode Island, then sent a wall of water through the streets of Providence, killing 700 along the way. Some say we're overdue for another one - and this book may be the blueprint.

And the one, unlike "The Perfect Storm," that is still waiting to be made into a major motion picture: "Isaac's Storm," Erik Larson's recounting of the 1900 hurricane that leveled Galveston, Texas and claimed over 6,000 lives. Larson's tale of the utter chaos and misery in the wake of the storm is made even sadder by the backwardness of the U.S. Weather Bureau, which ignored storm warnings posted by the Cuban weather service.

Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science, Tech & Weather

Filed under: books • hurricanes • Severe weather • Weather

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