Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster

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When you think of catastrophic floods, natural disasters are what come to mind. Torrential downpours, hurricane conditions, monsoons, and typhoons. But one of the most destructive floods in history was more the result of human incompetence, greed, and willful mismanagement than natural conditions: the Johnstown Flood.

Roker brings this tragedy to life in incredible detail, presenting a tale that’s horrifying in its scope, its brutality, and the victimization of the people by the rich, even if it led to major changes. Leaving no stone unturned in his quest to tell the story from all sides, Roker presents the history of the town itself (and the factory system that spawned it) as well as the biographies of the major players (both in the town and in the elite country club whose manmade lake later doomed the townspeople below).

The centerpiece of the narrative involves the night of the flood, where tales of heroic sacrifice, incredible luck, and unimaginable anguish are woven together into a tapestry of terror and action. You truly feel like you’re trapped on the rooftops alongside the Johnstown victims.

With both climate change and the excesses of the rich making headlines these days, there has never been a more appropriate time to bring this story back to prominence, and Roker does an outstanding job of bringing this preventable tragedy into the spotlight with Ruthless Tide.


Reviewed By:

Author Al Roker
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher William Morrow Paperbacks
Publish Date 2019-04-16
ISBN 9780062445537
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2019
Category History
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