Episode 164: The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff

Episode 164: The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff

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Episode 164: The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff

Episode 178: The 1990 Plainfield tornado

Episode 178: The 1990 Plainfield tornado

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Episode 178: The 1990 Plainfield tornado

Episode 177: American Eagle Flight 4184

Episode 177: American Eagle Flight 4184

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Episode 177: American Eagle Flight 4184

Episode 176: The Italian hall disaster

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Episode 176: The Italian hall disaster

Episode 175: The Hotel Roosevelt fire

Episode 175: The Hotel Roosevelt fire

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Episode 175: The Hotel Roosevelt fire

Episode 174: Bhopal

Episode 174: Bhopal

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Episode 174: Bhopal

Disaster book recommendations!

Okay, SO. I was showing off my 167-book strong Kindle collection of disaster books and someone asked if I could give any recommendations. I can give a LOT, actually. Some you may know, some may be new, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed reading each of these (insomuch as you can enjoy reading about terrible tragedy).

  • A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord: This one is a must-have, and a disaster classic. This is actually the book which first got me into Titanic, which got me into other shipwrecks, which got me into plane crashes, aaaaaaaand eventually here I am.
  • Alive, by Piers Paul Read: This was done not long after the survival of those onboard Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 with the support and participation of the survivors, and it shows. Obviously, trigger warning for survival cannibalism and the accompanying use of human corpses which that entails.
  • The Circus Fire, by Stewart O’Nan: O’Nan did an amazing amount of research on the Hartford circus fire of 1944 for this, and it shows. He manages to go into extraordinary detail about a fire that only would have last a handful of minutes.
  • Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer: This is one of those books that you’ve probably already read if you’re into this podcast, but if you haven’t read it yet, what are you still doing here? Go on, go pick it up.
  • Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, by Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro: Such a great and thorough accounting of the Bhopal disaster that humanizes a segment of the Indian population who often don’t get the proper respect they deserve on so many levels, and were unfortunately the main victims of the tragedy.
  • Dying to Cross, by Jorge Ramos: A fantastic book about a terrible accident which left a truck full of undocumented immigrants dead, and the social pressures and policies which led to such a tragedy.
  • Columbine, by Dave Cullen: Arguably the best book about a mass shooting there is. Cullen being a professional reporter, he is able to look at the tragedy and how the media fanned the flames of the myths surrounding the Columbine massacre.
  • Dead Wake, by Eric Larson: An incredible book about the sinking of the Lusitania.
  • Isaac’s Storm, also by Eric Larson: This really probably falls under the umbrella of books many of you have already read, but if not it’s a high recommend for me.
  • The Only Plane in the Sky, by Garrett M. Graff: A oral history of 9/11. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook. It’s very well-done and I listen to it at work on a regular basis.
  • Boston Strong, by Casey Strong and Dave Wedge: A really great book on the Boston bombing. It *feels* Boston, which is probably the best compliment I could give it.
  • The Curse of the Narrows, by Laura MacDonald: I had never even heard of the Halifax explosion before I spotted this on a table at Borders one day, and I’m so glad I snapped it up. It’s a wonderful thorough story of the tragedy.
  • Cockpit Confidential, by Patrick Smith: This is more of a behind-the-scenes book about what goes on in the airline industry, but it dispels a lot of myths and whatnot that might have you fearing boarding a plane.
  • Radium Girls, by Kate Moore: I absolutely adore this book, which is about the “radium girls” who worked painting watch dials with radioactive paint in the early 20th century. It’s haunting to read about what they suffered through, knowing they didn’t have to.
  • Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham: This was one of the main sources for my Chernobyl series and it’s really great. There are a lot of good books on Chernobyl out there, God knows, and the miniseries is fantastic if you’ve never seen it.
  • The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, by Tim Madigan: Given the anniversary and the last few years, I really recommend reading up not just on the attack on Black Wall Street in 1921, but the events surrounding the Red Summer as well and so many other aspects of racist attacks on the Black community over the past hundred years. I picked this up for the Black Wall Street episode and it was a great source.
  • And The Band Played On, by Randy Shilts: Arguably the definitive book on the early days of the AIDS epidemic. The only criticism I would give is to take the sections on Gaetan Dugas with a grain of salt, but the rest is a necessary read.

Those are all the ones I can think of after going through my Kindle collection. I’ve linked to Amazon in such a way so if you do go through the provided links, it’ll help support the podcast, but I also recommend taking this list and getting these books from your local independent bookseller. I may do a second post if I get a chance. God knows I have a LOT of disaster books.

Disaster book recommendations!

Episode 173: The Oklahoma City bombing

Episode 173: The Oklahoma City bombing

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Episode 173: The Oklahoma City bombing

Episode 171: The battle of Blair Mountain

Episode 171: The battle of Blair Mountain

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  • American Experience: The Mine Wars (can be purchased through the Apple Store)

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Episode 171: The battle of Blair Mountain

Episode 170: United Airlines Flight 93

Episode 170: United Airlines Flight 93

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Episode 170: United Airlines Flight 93