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Washington Reads (Fall 2007) - Disasters

Washington natural disasters have provided us with a wealth of material about catastrophic events. Many of our state's disasters changed the landscape forever. The forces of nature have unleashed some unexpected and deadly events that have shaped the state and yielded some impressive history. We are fascinated by the horrific nature of disasters, while our spirits are uplifted by tales of rescue and survival. Both the fiction and nonfiction books this season recount tales of tragedy and escape; they also define Washingtonians as people who open their hearts with hope and willingness to help each other.

Atwater, Brian F. and others. The Orphan Tsunami of 1700: Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America.

Three centuries passed before geologic discoveries in North America were joined with clues recorded by Japanese Samurai, merchants and villagers to reveal the source of the tsunami in 1700. This is a fascinating scientific detective story, and will guide in preparing for future earthquakes.

Bjornstad, Bruce. On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A Geological Field Guide to the Mid-Columbia Basin.

Bjornstad, a licensed geologist/hydrogeologist, has studied the Ice Age floods since 1980. He has written a rich, detailed field guide of the land forever changed by the cataclysmic ice age floods of 15,000 years ago. An important work in our geologic history.

Hobbs, Richard S. Catastrophe to Triumph: Bridges of the Tacoma Narrows.

This inclusive and compelling portrait of the Narrows bridges takes the reader from the disaster of the “Galloping Gertie” to the triumph of the 2007 span. Hobbs includes descriptions that bring the people to life and photos that enhance the stories.

Krist, Gary. The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche.

Inspired storytelling recreates the railway disaster in a tale of the brutal power of nature's savage storm. Learn about the passengers, caught first in the blizzard and then in the avalanche, and those who attempted to rescue them from nature's grip. This work of nonfiction will keep readers engaged.

Maclean, John N. The Thirtymile Fire: A Chronicle of Bravery and Betrayal.

Maclean recreates the moments of this 2001 deadly wildfire in the North Cascades—one in which four young firefighters were trapped and killed in a canyon during what was supposed to be a mop-up operation.

Mullen, Thomas. The Last Town on Earth.

This compelling historical fiction tells of the Spanish influenza epidemic during World War I and its effect on a Pacific Northwest town. It is a chilling read that links history and our own times.

Nance, John J. Saving Cascadia.

A thriller that combines Nance's aviation experience with the seismic power of nature. This riveting fictional tale is a nail-biter, with a unexpected twist at its end. Readers won't be able to put this one down!

Young Adult
Kehret, Peg. Escaping the Giant Wave.

This fictional tale includes humor and drama in a tsunami adventure during a family vacation on the Oregon coast. The author layers a terrifying experience with a portrayal of teen emotions and feelings before, during and after the giant wave.

McNair-Huff, Rob and Natalie. Washington Disasters: True Stories of Tragedy and Survival.

This chronologically arranged book summarizes the major disasters in the history of the state, from the 1700 subduction zone earthquake and tsunami to the Thirtymile Fire. Each chapter is an engaging summary of a notable disaster in Washington. This book will appeal to young adults and adults alike.

Rusch, Elizabeth. Will It Blow? Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens. Illustrated by K.E. Lewis.

This is a delightful and humorous book that takes children on an informative yet entertaining geologic adventure. They become volcano detectives looking for the clues as to whether the volcano will erupt.