10 Best Books About Disasters | TheReviewGeek Recommends

You know you have a secret disaster-junkie side. When you hear about some major calamity or close call, you find yourself scouring the news for every detail and update, watching hours of coverage and analysis. Admit it, there’s something fascinating about chaos and mayhem, as long as you’re experiencing it from a safe distance.

If this describes you, then you’re going to like this list of the 10 best books about disasters, catastrophes, and total meltdowns. From harrowing survival stories to gripping accounts of society on the brink of collapse, these reads will satisfy your craving for calamity without you having to leave the comfort of your couch. So cosy up and prepare to experience some of the most compelling stories of chaos and mayhem in recent memory.

Books About Disasters
Oil Spill: Deepwater Horizon by Meish Goldfish

This harrowing true story chronicles the human side of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. The Oil Spill is a gripping tale of courage, loss and the fight for survival against impossible odds.

As the oil rig erupted into a massive fireball, crews scrambled to evacuate before the structure collapsed into the sea. Many escaped on life rafts, adrift for hours in the burning oil slick, terrified their rig would capsize at any moment. Rescue seemed uncertain, as responders struggled against time and distance to locate survivors in the roiling waters of the Gulf.

Books About Disasters
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers’ nonfiction book Zeitoun tells the harrowing story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American contractor in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. When the storm hits, Zeitoun stays behind to help those in need while his family flees.

For days, Zeitoun paddles through the flooded streets in a canoe, saving neighbours and feeding abandoned dogs. But soon militarized authorities saw him as a “suspect.” Despite having ID, he’s arrested and subjected to human rights violations at a makeshift jail.

Books About Disasters
The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

This book chronicles the devastating Johnstown flood of 1889, one of the worst disasters in American history. Over 2,200 lives were lost when the South Fork Dam failed after days of heavy rain, unleashing 20 million tons of water down the Little Conemaugh River valley.

You’ll learn about the wealthy sportsmen’s club that built the faulty dam for their private lake, the heroic efforts of the Johnstown residents to rebuild their homes and lives, and the important safety reforms that followed.

Books About DisastersBooks About Disasters
Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson chronicles the events surrounding the 1900 Galveston hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in American history. Through the eyes of Isaac Cline, a weather bureau official in Galveston, you experience the unfolding chaos and destruction of this massive storm.

Cline was a pioneer in hurricane forecasting, yet he failed to recognize the threat posed by the storm that would ultimately claim over 6,000 lives. As the storm approaches on September 8, 1900, Cline and his brother continue to reassure residents that the city is safe. However, within hours Galveston is battered by winds up to 145 mph and a massive storm surge floods the entire island.

Books About Disasters
The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin chronicles the harrowing details of one of the deadliest blizzards in U.S. history. On January 12, 1888, a mass of Arctic air swept down from Canada into the American Midwest. Temperatures plunged and winds gusted, trapping children in one-room schoolhouses far from home.

Laskin brings to life the families of pioneers who left Europe for the promise of free land in the Dakota Territory. Using historical records and journals, he follows the homesteaders’ journeys and daily lives leading up to that fateful blizzard. When the storm hits, you’ll feel the bone-chilling cold and anguish of families unable to rescue their children trapped at school.

Books About Disasters
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is a heart-pounding account of the deadly 1991 storm that struck off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Junger reconstructs the last moments of the doomed fishing vessel Andrea Gail through historical records and first-hand accounts from the close-knit Gloucester fishing community. The crew of six men disappeared at sea, victims of a “perfect storm” of colliding weather events.

Books About Disasters
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick tells the harrowing true story of the whaleship Essex. In 1820, the Essex was attacked and sunk by an enormous sperm whale in the South Pacific. The 20 crew members escaped in three small whaleboats with little food or water. What followed was an epic struggle for survival.

For 90 days, the men drifted at sea in their tiny boats, succumbing to weather, starvation, disease, and ultimately turning to cannibalism. The story of the Essex disaster inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Philbrick’s masterful account brings to life the voyage of the Essex and illuminates the tragedy that unfolded. His descriptions of the crew’s anguish and deprivation are vivid and visceral.

Books About Disasters
Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti

The 1938 New England hurricane, also known as the Long Island Express, was one of the most destructive and powerful storms ever to strike the region. Within a span of just a few hours, this massive cyclone slammed into Long Island and parts of New England as a Category 3 storm, packing wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.

In Scotti’s gripping account, Sudden Sea, you’ll read harrowing tales of survival and loss from that infamous day in September. He chronicles the events leading up to the storm, from the warnings issued by the Weather Bureau to the reluctance of locals to prepare for such a powerful tempest. As the hurricane approaches, Scotti builds the suspense and dread, culminating in a blow-by-blow description of the devastation wrought by this “sudden sea.”

Books About Disasters
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

This gripping book provides a minute-by-minute account of the struggle for survival inside the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Through firsthand accounts of survivors and emergency responders, Dwyer and Flynn reconstruct the chaotic events of that fateful morning.

You’ll follow ordinary people going about their day when the unthinkable happens. A plane crashes into the North Tower, filling it with smoke and fire. Office workers start evacuating but soon a second plane hits the South Tower. It becomes clear this is not an accident but a terrorist attack.

Books About Disasters
Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story by University Press of Mississippi

The University Press of Mississippi brings us a compelling look at the human stories behind the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Focusing on the events in Mississippi, this collection of first-hand accounts provides a harrowing glimpse into the struggles of survivors in the aftermath of the storm. As Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, the residents of coastal Mississippi communities like Waveland, Bay St. Louis, and Pass Christian saw their towns demolished and lives upended in a matter of hours.

There we have it, our list 0f books about disasters. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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