Arguably the most terrible natural disaster in American history, occurred on September 9, 1900, a date which will live in infamy for Galveston. In Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson, the Great Storm moves through the streets one fateful Saturday like a "mailman delivering dynamite- (p 198), turning the once-great port city into a vast sea of wreckage and desolation. At a time when meteorology was a "complete science- (13), human hubris is what caused the death toll and destruction to be so great.
Before telling the story at hand, Larson instead chose to brief the readers with a bit of science regarding hurricanes. Larson talks about the history of hurricanes, and also gives us a meteorological lesson on how hurricanes form. Some readers would complain that it is off-topic and pointless. However, it exists simply to prove Larson's point of hurricanes being a stifling force for humans. This section is not only interesting, but lets readers who are not weather savants to catch up with those who are. Larson makes a somewhat fictional account of the progression of the storm from an "awakening of molecules- (19) somewhere on the coast of Africa to the deadly gale it became when it reached the gulf. This is fictional because there is no way for Larson to know exactly where and how this hurricane formed. He can be forgiven however as this makes a very good read. He goes into detail of chaos theory, that "if a butterfly opens its wings somewhere in a West African rainforest, it might set into motion a chain of events that escalates into a hurricane striking coastal South Carolina a few weeks later- (26). This theory is an important one in the field of weather research, as it is nearly impossible to determine exactly what caused a particular storm. In 1900 Galveston, it was nearly impossible to determine if there even was a storm if it was over sea. However, hubris caused man to disregard nature itself (16).