Book Review--September, 2002
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If you're a real storm aficionado like I am, you often find yourself frustrated when you go into a bookstore, and have difficulty finding a good variety of books on weather and storms. That's why I was so pleased when the folks at University Press of Florida gave me the opportunity to sample the two books I'm about to review for you.

The State of Florida has had a very rich history from the time of Spanish Occupation in the 18th Century through today. That rich history has included its share of run-ins with tropical storms and hurricanes, and the two books below chronicle this portion of Florida history exquisitely well.

The first book, Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms 1871-2001 by John M. Williams and Iver W. Dudedall, discusses every tropical storm and hurricane on record that has hit Florida. The second book comes out at a very appropriate time since this is the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew striking South Florida.

In The Eye of Hurricane Andrew by Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. and Asterie Baker Provenzo chronicle South Florida, before, during and after the most costliest natural disaster in United States History to date. In the next few paragraphs, you will see why these books are great reads, and why I strongly urge you to purchase them.

Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Published in 2002, this book by Williams and Duedall chronicles the history of Florida through recorded tropical storms and hurricanes. There are eight chapters to this book. Much of them go into great detail on the storms from 1991 to 2001.

Nevertheless, all of the storms mentioned are thoroughly described in terms of their storm track, sustained winds, and destruction left in their wake. Williams, who has lived through 33 of these tropical cyclones, provides a great deal of insight with his own personal accounts of storms such as Hurricane King in 1950, Hurricane Cleo in 1964, and Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

There are also very vivid personal accounts from many people quoted in the book as well. These personal accounts give you a better picture of what happened. The storms are personified from just the meteorological statistics they possess.

You get a true sense of the power, fury, and devastation that these storms can bring to coastal communities not only in Florida, but all along the United States coastline from Maine to Texas. There are also many illustrations and graphics to go along with the historical and statistical data as well as the personal accounts.

However, you will have to leaf back and forth to be able to see the images as you read along since they are all contained in the back of the book. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this book a great deal. It was well researched, informative, captivating, and very detailed. A very enjoyable read!

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In The Eye of Hurricane Andrew

Another significant part of Florida history, at least modern history, was of course, the weather events of August 24, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew, recently classified as a Category Five Hurricane by the National Hurricane Center, and now ranked as the tenth strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin, slammed into Homestead, and the rest of South Florida.

Andrew was the costliest natural disaster in United States History. But, for those living outside of South Florida, you certainly didn't feel the true magnitude of the storm despite media coverage, which was not as big as many would believe. Published in 2002 also, In The Eye of Hurricane Andrew gives you that feeling.

It gives you the ability to take your hand and grab hold of the impact beyond the huge numbers behind the damage that laid in Andrew's wake. Eugene and Asterie Provenzo provide you with very detailed personal accounts of how this terrible natural disaster affected every aspect of South Florida life from the economic impact to the social, ecological, and political impacts that included the defeat of George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election along with the Dade County Director refusal to run for re-election.

There are also personal triumphs that emerged from the disaster including the Homestead Marching Band, which played at the Inauguration of Bill Clinton in January, 1993, and the creation the Naomi Browning Tiger Temple at the Miami Metro zoo. Browning was a 12-year old volunteer at the zoo, who was killed in the hurricane. Her Mother had said that she was more worried about the animals back at the Metro zoo. than her own safety.

There was also the controversy over federal, state, and local assistance, which caused a great deal of frustration and anger in South Florida as well as fears that South Florida would never recover in light of the tremendous looting that ensued after the storm.

All of this is depicted in a very captivating and personal way through again, the personal accounts of those who lived through the disaster. Another great book, and one that will keep the memory of Andrew as well as the danger hurricanes present in our minds for as long as we live.

In The Eye of Hurricane Andrew

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