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tv   Eric Jay Dolin A Furious Sky  CSPAN  December 23, 2020 7:31am-8:37am EST

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eastern for the joint session of congress to count the votes and declare the winner for president and vice president and finally at noon on january 20th the inauguration of the 46 president of the united states. live coverage begins at 7 am eastern from the statehouse to congress, to the white house. watch it all live on c-span, on the go, or listen to the free c-span radio apps. >> listen to c-span's podcast the weekly. we are talking to purdue university political scientist robert browning who directs the c-span archives about congress's increasing use of lame-duck session stick tackle big-ticket legislation. signed c-span's the weekly where you get your podcasts. >> you are watching c-span2, your unfiltered view of government. c-span2 was created by america's cable television companies and today brought to
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you by those who provide c-span2 to viewers of the public service. >> greetings, every one. in new orleans, the distinct pleasure of welcoming our two guests today, jack davis and eric dolan, author of "a furious sky: the 500-year history of america's hurricanes". it is a very timely book. louisiana got blasted this week by hurricane laura and our thoughts and prayers go to everybody in lake charles and cameron parish, that whole area. we were speaking earlier, we will have weeks if not months of no power with the system,
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even people as far north as monroe still without power. jack davis will be in conversation with our other, he's a professor of history specializing in environmental history and sustainability studies and author of the pulitzer prize winning the gulf:the making of an american season, this is a beautiful homage. in addition to the pulitzer prize by new york times notable book 2017 and made several other best of lists for the year including the washington post, npr and forbes. a pleasure to have you with us today. >> my pleasure to be here. >> turn the floor over to jack
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and eric and let them start the conversation. people have questions in the chat room and get to this question if not during the talk at the very end and also encourage people, eric's new book, we have signed copies at the bookshop, go to our website www. or give us a call and shift books to you anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world. turn it over to jack. >> we will start by introducing eric. i'm sure you are familiar with eric's work, he is a prolific author of 14 books. he is a nonfiction writer who specializes in writing history
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that is really geared for the intellectually curious audience and a good narrative writer, outstanding narrative writer type of history that doesn't put me to sleep. among the more notable books, he won numerous awards, among the more notable ones are leviathan:a history of whaling which was a new york times bestseller and another book i read a couple years ago was black lives bluewater, book about the history of pirates and that large history wasn't large enough, tackling hurricane history, before it came out, someone who grew up in florida and lives in
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florida, books that have been written on hurricane history, we have been due for a good book on hurricane, it is a huge topic, eric tackled it masterfully, despite this topic being so huge, a book you can actually hold in your hand and it is a lovely book as i said so i am really looking forward to having this conversation with eric today so i want to start by asking eric, why did you decide to write this book on hurricanes? why did you take on this topic? i am trying to figure out how
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to bring it to a manageable one. >> i had long thought about writing a book about hurricanes but i wanted to write about a particular hurricane, two hurricanes i was most interested in, the galveston hurricane of 1900 and the great hurricane of 1938 which hit long island and new england where i happened to live, both of those hurricanes had quite a few really good books written about them so i put the idea aside and wrote black flags bluewater and then came the summer and fall of 2017, the hurricane season from hell when we had hurricane harvey, irma and maria destroy different parts of the united states.
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my editor and your editor. got to gather with head of sales at the time and they thought there should be a book on the history of american hurricanes and they immediately thought of me because a number of my books spans centuries and i came to have a particular talent for bringing together huge amounts of information into a readable narrative so they reached out to my literary agent and asked if i would be interested in writing a book about hurricanes and he reached out to me and i didn't immediately say yes because i found out i have to have a vision of what the book will look like so i didn't know a lot about hurricanes other than the two i mentioned so a month and a half i read a ton of books and articles and primary accounts of hurricanes and the
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book came into view and i said i would write the book and the proposal and the rest is history. >> the vision of writing the book, when i came to completing it, had the mission remained the same or staring off in different directions, something that would appeal to your reading audience. >> at the outset that was partly when i put together a book proposal i spend a lot of time making notes and outlining where it is going to go and i won't sign a book title until i'm confident i outline the book, there were some surprises
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that didn't make it into the book. the general outline and the rough chapter outline stays fairly constant. a part of that, books tend to be chronological, sometimes this get back in time and most often march through history and a chronological fashion so once you know the general lay of the land and the big-ticket stories you want to incorporate and the big themes, it is a matter of putting flesh on the bone but there are always surprises when you write a book at least for me. every one of my books except for one was on a topic i didn't know about before i started working on it and i do that on purpose because i have to spend almost two years working on these books.
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i tends to get bored easily so if i don't pick a topic that will excite me every couple weeks or every day that could be a problem and one of the best ways to do that is pick a topic i'm not an expert in, then i'm guaranteed to be surprised along the way and that surprise and excitement not only fuels my work on the book but i am hoping that it translates to some extent to the written page. >> i think it does at least in my opinion. to use start with the chapter detail outline, or how about
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your research, before you sit down to write or are you researching along the way, you've been writing books for a long time, very different from the way we did, not too many years ago, archives across the country and not digitized so much. with the year in front of us. do you have confidence? >> my first book for norton was this whaling book. they didn't know me from adam. i had written 6 or 7 books before that, major publishers, the proposal for my whaling book was 100 pages long, very detailed and what has happened since i stayed with norton for six books they've gotten to know me and trust me more so my proposals have gotten shorter and shorter.
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the proposal for the hurricane book only weighed in at 17 double-spaced pages, but i had a rough idea of chapters that i used for my purposes so you have to have a map in order to get some place. i have gotten better at the process. what are the things, what direction do i want the book to go? talk about researching, in 1990s, always had to go to specialized libraries, it is rarely digitized with good copy machines.
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i was taking a lot of hand notes, i flunked handwriting in elementary school. i had very poor handwriting and don't write fast. using a typewriter was good back then or computers came in but what happened in the last 10 or 15 years as a sea change, so much is digitized, not only google books which allows you to access virtually any book written before 1923 on any topic but a lot of the major research institutions spent a lot of money digitizing some of their key documents. with a few keystrokes, i could be overwhelmed with data. i was working on a new book on privateering, doing research on it today. reading books from 1850 and
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that book mentioned a certain privateer. i got on google and put in the privateer's name and wanted his vessel and 6 or 7 other documents from the 1800s and 1900s to talk about this privateer so the same for the hurricanes but the problem was not lack of information. the problem was deciding with a huge amount of data available to me what do i use. i had to make hundreds of decisions what to leave out and what not to leave in. >> what were you looking for in the history of individual hurricanes that made the grade, the criteria you wanted would include in order to include - >> what draws me the most, and
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i write books in the manner to read them, i love human interest stories, they go fastest and lead the deeper impression with me when the story of people battling against the odds dealing with adversity or just planning in the face of what is likely to come so i love stories about individuals who survive and business this -- survivors hurricanes, the stories of meteorologists, politicians and other people that got swept up into the story both good and bad, people gravitate most easily to stories about other human beings being put in unique situations and hurricanes fill that bill. i didn't spend as much time talking about administrative stuff, and the human side of
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the story. >> that is what i like about your book and other hurricane books that have been written focusing on the administrative side or climatology. reminding stoneman douglas's original hurricane, a human interest story. a hurricane, and what you've done here. what is standing out that you might share what kept you glued to the desk writing. >> one of the big surprises is
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how hurricanes affected the course of american history. in your state alone i was fascinated to read in the 50 -- 1550s and 60s the spanish were trying to settle florida and the first settlement was wiped out by a hurricane and think about history might have changed. and on the east coast of florida there was a royale between the french and spanish who are interested in colonizing florida and the french which had a formidable fleet was about ready to attack the spanish in what is now saint augustine, the french getting ready to launch their attack a hurricane comes along, wipes out half of the french fleet and the spanish kill most of the stragglers that made it
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out of the water after the hurricane crashed their ships. i love those kind of stories because they create great what ifs. what if france had settled florida and not spain. how might the history of the country been different, might there not have been a united states? there are other stories like that. to step back what i said before, i didn't know about hurricanes but certainly didn't know a lot about meteorology. almost everything was a big surprise but the battle in the 1800s between amateur, how meteorology evolved and our understanding of hurricanes evolved was fascinating to me. the role of cuba in early hurricanes science and understanding was fascinating. to hear that president
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mckinley, when it started, he was more afraid what hurricanes would do to american forces than any military attack that might occur, every story in the book, i was excited to read about through new aspects of american history and the evolution of the hurricane hunter, the first person decided joseph duckworth to fly into a hurricane in the 1940s, how sputnik led to the creation of satellites and weather satellites and today with all of our technology and all of our ability to watch a hurricane from inception to dissolution to understand how
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much uncertainty there still is. the computer models can only take you so far and look at hurricane laura which devastated parts of louisiana last week, just look at what happened in the last few hours before it came ashore. if it had been 15 miles in either direction the story might have been quite different. the storm surge might have reached 20 feet. there were still questions where it was going to occur and what the impact would be and that relates to the notion of how to affect american history, and if a hurricane had jobs 20 or 30 miles this direction versus that direction just think how different our history would be and look at new orleans, hurricane katrina had a major impact in new orleans but imagine if instead of
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making landfall 30 miles to the east, it had given new orleans a direct hit. that might have been a very different story and an even worse story than what came out of it. is when did hurricane forecasting really become decent for many many years, the weather service was incompetent when it came to forecasting and tracking, a turning point in history when us government meteorologists became expert and reliable? >> it has to do with getting their eyes on the storm. with the advent of radio was
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the opportunity for ships, they can supplement that, in early years but it started to change fundamentally in the 1940s and 50s when the hurricane hunter planes went online. a tank full of glass, for a plane to get into the atlantic or caribbean and see where the hurricane was, sending instruments into the hurricane and relay that information to the meteorologists, their ability to track the hurricanes was much improved and with satellites it was a different ballgame, you can watch a hurricane develop and correct its way across the atlantic or through the caribbean to the gulf coast and never lose sight of it so no longer can we be
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complete be surprised by hurricanes and adding to that not only were we able to see that and gather data on that but with sophisticated computerized weather prediction models we started to come online in the 1950s and improved since then. we had the added piece for the meteorologists, add that to their historical understanding of hurricane tracks and get off a much better idea where this hurricane is going, how powerful it is likely to be and what kind of protections or steps we need to take before it arrives. the arc of our understanding, the ability to track them as they move across the globe is
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just night and day compared to 50 years ago. reducing the impact of the hurricane, one of the annoying things is there's nothing we can do as human beings to avert a strike. all we can do is better plan and prepare and deal with the aftermath. >> you are dealing with the human interest stories, sometimes, signatures that stand out, what you're familiar with, new orleans, the long time weatherman, what we might call him, he didn't trust the
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us weather service, never use the green screen standing in front of the screen like this with squeaky markers, weather forecasters or a particular hurricane to save lives. >> hurricane laura did a number on cameron parish, they will be dealing with that for many years, 1957 hurricane audrey came ashore at the end of june and basically leveled cameron parish but one individual, doctor cecil clark and his wife, they had a clinic, during the height of the hurricane,
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three of his youngest children and made to go into the clinic to help the patients who are there and anyone coming in as to the hurricane. his car got thrown off the road by water and he sheltered with the family not far from his home. he survived, came out of the house the next morning and people crowded around him, they knew him because he was a local doctor and begged him to go to the cameron parish courthouse where many people who were injured needed to be sent into. he was torn because he had no idea what happened to his wife sybil and three children and his made. had no idea yet he decided because of his professional responsibility and the oath that he took for his patients that he was going to go to the courthouse and tends to them
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and he did. not until many hours later, that his wife had survived during the storm, and all sorts of awards. he brushed that all aside and said i'm just doing what was asked of me, doing what is responsible and i expect other people to do the same but he is certainly one of the heroes who put the needs of others above the needs of himself. a similarly placed was clara barton in 1893, it killed as many as 2 to 3000 people. we didn't have a mechanism or machinery for helping people after hurricanes but she and her relatives new american red cross and volunteers swept into
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the sea islands off georgia and south carolina and she helped those people during their time of greatest need get off the ground, start planning and being themselves for the future and one other story that came out of the hurricane of 1893 which i love is about dunbar davis who was a lifesaver in oak island, north carolina, life-saving station. after the hurricane he basically went without sleep for almost 35 hours and stayed nearly 20 mariners whose founder -- the ship founded offshore, brought back the life-saving station and finally he got to take a nap at the end of that ordeal. is another hero and there are many many heroes in new orleans, during hurricane katrina. many people came in to help out, one of the most
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interesting were the cajun navy. all those people with their boats around louisiana came to new orleans, helps to save 10,000 people over the span of a week or two into my eyes they are heroes as well. my dad was fond of saying he came up with, i don't know what philosopher or writer wrote this first but i'm sure it goes back hundreds of thousands of years, adversity introduces a man or woman to themselves. .. >> one thing about hurricane audrey in 1957 is some 500 people lost their life and that's hurricane we remember. unless you are from louisiana,
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people still remember audrey. in this country we suffer from something of what i call hurricane amnesia. if you're not in agreement with me, are we doing any better in remembering our hurricanes? are we taking important lessons away from hurricanes now that perhaps that are not in the history and what might those lessons of the? >> that's a tough question. i have to front that my book didn't, in the beginning of the book i talk about the four legs of a hurricane or the four stages. the the company, the strength, immediate aftermath and the long tail which is what do people do over the years and decades to deal with the hurricane destruction. in that fourth element which i
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don't talk about in the book that much is all the weapons we can learn from hurricanes. i mentioned many of them in the epilogue, but it's more generally, yes i do think we're learning. i think inevitably because of the coverage of hurricanes and the vast amounts of money that are involved, during 2017 hurricanes harvey and irma and maria generated $265 billion worth of damage here irma alone destroyed 50% of the orange crop in florida. when you are dealing with such massive dislocations, things the ridges on the economic richter scale of the entire country, it sort of forces people to focus on it. there's a lot of good writing about what people can do to better prepare for hurricanes, at a do believe that today compared to 50 years ago certainly people are much more familiar with the anatomy of a hurricane, how meteorologists
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give us information about them. they know where to go for information if a hurricane is headed toward their area. i believe many hurricane prone communities have good evacuation plans in place. they have emergency responder systems. hopefully, the interaction or the coronation between the local state regional and federal responders is getting better over time. but i will add it all depends on the vagaries of funding and public policy priorities. fema which has a checkered history to say the least and certainly one of their worst hours is in the aftermath of hurricane katrina, their history has been governed to some extent, not completely, to some extent by the amount of funding that they get at the federal level. also by the expertise of people who work for fema. are the people who are expert n
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emergency preparedness and response, or are they political appointees who are there for other reasons? i think there's plenty we can do to improve the situation, whether we actually do that, whether individuals or governments take the steps that are necessary is, we have to wait to see in many areas because it costs money. to hurricane prefer house and there difficult decisions that have to be made. one of the most difficult i think has to do with the fact that people still want to live on the coast. people are still moving to the coast. and people are building right on the oceans and. oftentimes in floodplains or in areas that are likely to get walloped by a hurricane. and unless we're better planning and zoning, that's going to be a continuing refrain well into the future.
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>> we live in an era in which we are starting to see climate change refugees moving away from coastal areas. i live in gainesville, florida, which is in the center of the state and we have become something of a climate refugee city more and more people are leaving the coast and coming to gainesville because they feel safer there, less congestion. they feel more so out of harms way. are we going to start seeing more hurricane refugees, or is it happening already? >> yeah. look at hurricane andrew. it ripped a 30-mile wide swath of destruction through miami-dade county, almost 200,000 homes were destroyed. many people, about 100,000 people, lost their jobs because their place of business was just demolished. coincidentally, that's the same number about 100,000 people left
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miami-dade county in the months after the hurricane. it's inevitable where you have major hurricane strike there are going to be people who decide they have to leave because they want to get out of the way before the next one comes along. but i would argue what comes to coastal living, there is such a strong draw and a magnet for it that there's going to be outflow, people who have been impacted, but then in the subsequent years people are going to slowly come back. you see that time and again. i know here in marblehead where i live which is just right on the coast we don't get walloped by too many hurricanes but we get pretty severe door easterners that do a number of law to houses along the coast, yet people of living right on the ocean's edge. people whose houses have been either destroyed or just damaged often say rebuild, , hopefully a little better than before, and pray that they will not get struck again. i think it's almost inevitable
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with population expansion and the allure of living in a coastal area that we're going to continue to have development. but in in a place like miami-de and in parts of florida they have some of the best building codes in the country when it comes to hurricanes. if you build smarter and better, you can avoid some of the problems of the past. >> why don't we talk about northern hurricanes? normally we think of florida in the gulf coast, we think of the american south, south east. sandy was obviously a pivotal hurricane in the north. it turned eyes towards building codes up north, back in florida, and are there hurricanes in the north that were pivotal in the way that sandy was, or just even
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memorable? >> absolutely. in florida to get 40% of the hurricane strikes. louisiana is right up there as a south carolina, north carolina and texas. as northerners often don't think about hurricanes nearly as much as you do for good reason because new england only gets smacked with a hurricane about five or ten times a century. but we've had some doozies. the biggest is the hurricane of 1938 1938 which slammed into the eastern end of long island and then plowed into new england causing the most damage in rhode island. it ended up killing 680, about $500 million worth of damage, $1938, and is still to this day is the single worst natural disaster in new england history. if you see anybody who is over 90 or 85, every member that
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hurricane. if you speak to many younger people who grew up here, they heard about that hurricane extensively while they were growing up. hurricane sandy had a major impact on new jersey and more importantly new york the way that it is remembered but it also, the outer edges of hurricane sandy cause a lot of damage up here in new england. after all, the hurricane was all of a thousand miles wide. in the mid-1950s there was an outbreak of hurricanes that affected new england. hurricane carol, edna, hazel, and diane, people around you remember those. hurricane bob, there's a funny picture in the book in the color section of me in 1991. i wife was working for the state of massachusetts. she was my fiancé at the time and should go down and check the damage in massachusetts on cape
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cod. i went along with her and she snapped this shot of me standing next to a summer cottage that was leveled by the storm surge and the wind. if you get to take a look at the picture, please notice the hawaiian shirt that i'm wearing. it was one of my favorite shirts at the time. my soon-to-be wife he did it, and right after we got married she got rid of that hawaiian shirt and my suede vest, and i still miss both of them. >> i'm looking for the picture now. >> it's at the end of the color section. look at the color insert at the end. >> eureka. >> hold it up a little bit. [laughing] yeah, that's me. when my hair was brown. >> well, you had hair.
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[laughing] >> those who have tuned in, if you will, please share any questions in the chat room that you might have. we have plenty of time for questions from you. i want to talk about that expression that's very common when talking about hurricanes, and that is natural disaster. are these truly natural disasters? doesn't natural disaster blame nature? who is to blame for, you know, the human consequences of hurricanes? >> they are both natural disasters and man-made disasters, human they disasters. they are natural disasters of course in the sense it is nature that is creating the hurricanes. they are getting worse because of human intervention in the area of global warming and greenhouse gases going into the
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atmosphere, and the evidence is mounting the future hurricanes any warmer world are going to be worse than those of the past. but as we get into more modern era, certainly the last 50, 60 years, a lot of it is human-made disaster. because if you poorly built houses that are built to close to the coast, if people don't evacuate in a timely manner and they treat a whole bunch of problems not only to the own personal safety but to the safety of the people have to go in there and rescue them. so the entire framework that we have created as human beings that gets walloped by these hurricanes, depending on how we've created a framework what development looked like and what steps we have taken to prepare for the hurricane and then deal with this aftermath, that's the elegant but that's how it becomes a human-made disaster. katrina is the perfect example. the levees, they breached in
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almost 50 different places. they were poorly built and there were a lot of development decisions that led up to the catastrophe that was katrina. not the least of which was development decisions that destroyed thousands of square miles of coastal marshland which act as a natural break or absorbent for the storm surges from hurricanes. there were bad decisions made about the construction of the levees. if you go back in time even further you can read about hurricanes in the early 1800s which destroyed levees that were even at that time in place around parts of new orleans. i love new orleans. i've only been there once. i've read a lot about their history and take this the right way, i'm not argue we get rid of new orleans, not by a long shot. but it's kind of a strange place to build the city. you're basically a big saucer that is under sea level in a
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coastal region. and it was very disturbing at the end of the book when i was doing, finishing up the research to discover that the army corps of engineers after spending tens of billions of dollars in the wake of katrina to shore up the levee system, to build one of the largest pumps in the universe, and basically to help protect new orleans from another category three hurricane. lo and behold, we learned that because of some construction decisions that were made, that new levee system, which is very new, is not going to afford even the level of protection that it was built. and now they've got to make some hard decisions about what to do in the future and whether to invest more money to make sure that new orleans is adequately
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protected. so it's both a natural disaster, you can't get rid of a natural component, but it's compounded by decisions that we make at every level. >> i like to say that the army corps of engineers should not be allowed to build anything larger than a bridge. >> they had many successes and many failures as well. >> that could be another chapter and discussion, right? so use the word wallop. i mean, there are so many ways you can describe a hurricane on landfall and coming in, wiping out, you know, there's a big blow, it clobbers. did you make a list of verbs and adjectives so you were not simply repeating the things when you are talking about one hurricane? >> i didn't have the list but definitely i had to do that. in fact, my editor, this is
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marie, she was doing the editing on it and she wanted me against that. she goes yeah, don't use terrible, dangerous, devastating. you have to use different words. i was conscious about that one is writing it. so while i didn't have a list i did use my thesaurus and it did search online and i remember distinctly going through the entire book many times right before and after i handed it in and doing searches on specific words. if a word that describes a hurricane or impact of the hurricane appeared too many times, i didn't have an exact number for that but but i got a sense, if it eventually times i said i have to go back and strategically change of these. that was definitely consideration because when you talk about different hurricanes, well, there's some elements of the hurricanes that are the same
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and there's devastation. how do you talk about that? related to that was i was very happy to hear some early reviewers of the book say that, that the book was not just a litany of hurricane after hurricane with the same story, that each hurricane added its own personality. i found that to be the case and that in turn made it easier for me to describe the hurricanes in a way that we can become too repetitive and boring, basicall basically. >> you can only say slams so many times, right? in writing about the bald eagle now, of course the word that comes to everybody's mind is majestic. >> right. >> describing a bald eagle is the word i refused, i could write about the popularity of the word but i refuse to use
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that word to describe the bald eagle. eagle. so we are, we're constantly searching for words to change of our language. but i think you know to one of the successes of your book is that it's not simply this laundry list of hurricanes, that each hurricane is a story in itself and is also part of universal story as well. it's great to see that reviewers are recognizing that, , and that speaks to your success as a writer and also your awareness of your audience. we had a question, and so the question is from one of -- what do you call -- during the research what was the most surprising thing -- i think you touched on this, about hurricanes that you came across? then a second question, if you
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can answer this first question. what was the most surprising thing about hurricanes that you came across? >> i sort of already answered that of course. let me add one more thing and necessity with the impact of hurricanes on american history. i love the american revolution. i love reading about the american revolution. i had absolutely no idea about the massive hurricanes that swept into the caribbean in 1780, and two of them killed a a total of 20,000 people but they also destroyed quite a few british and french ships because they use the area as a staging area for the battles farther to the north in the colonies and also to protect their colonial possessions. so what was just absolutely fascinating to me is the french fleet decided they didn't want to stay in the caribbean for the next hurricane season, and they were allies to the colonies and
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they long resisted helping them in the major naval battle. but finally they said okay will go up in the summer of 1781, and anyone knows what happened. the french fleet left the craving to get out of the way of the hurricanes and also to help their allies, and helped turned the tide of the battle of yorktown which ended when lord cornwallis surrendered to george washington on october 19, 1781, which was a major turning point in the american revolution. it was not the end of the american revolution by a long shot but it helped to grease the skids for the beginning of the peace negotiation. i just thought that was a great, just fascinating to me to learn about that, an element of the american revolution that i knew nothing about. >> typically when we read about this or about the american revolution, natures role in the course of that additionally is
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rarely if ever mentioned. you have described a major historical agent in the weather in war. >> just one of the way to look at it is that the weather is, as you said, a major historical actor. if you look at each individual hurricane, not just the ones i talk about in the book, they have a massive impact on that regions local history. however, that impact has a rippled that go out well beyond the area of landfall. although i didn't do it in my book, an economist, as an economist could go back and gather data on all of hurricanes in the modern era, maybe from the late 1800s, and look at the reverberations of each one of those hurricanes, not just within a community, a region or estate but to the broader economy, i think that hurricanes
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would come to be seen more clearly and a major determinant in our nation's economic history, and also a determinant in other things that happened, or didn't happen, because hurricanes that such a major impact. i think that would be a fascinating study, not one that i am going to do though. >> so another question. can you tell us a little bit about the history of naming hurricanes? >> naming hurricanes, this is one of the parts of the book i enjoyed writing about the most and until you a quick part of the story. basically in late 1800s early 1900s i guide named, and meteorologist and australia started naming cyclones which urges hurricanes by another name after beautiful as he called tahitian women. well, his effort got squashed
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for a variety of reasons but then you fast-forward to 1941 when novelist named george rippey seward wrote a book called storm which was a national bestseller and in in e book it talks about a storm that traveled across the pacific and slammed into california. it's not a typhoon. it wasn't a hurricane but in the book one of the junior meteorologist decides to name the hurricane, not just that one, that storm and other storms after women. eddie names this storm moriah. that book got sent to gis and sailors in the pacific theater during world war ii and that's part of the reason the navy in the army started unofficially naming typhoons, which again are just hurricanes by another name after women. so in the early 1950s the weather bureau, the predecessor to the national weather service, started naming hurricanes after
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the armies phonetic alphabet, able baker charlie. but there was some confusion because there was another phonetic alphabet that was suggested, so in 1956 the weather service finally decided to name hurricanes after women. they definitely got that idea from what was happening in the pacific theater during world war ii. there were a lot of protests. when women said she would much rather have a hurricane, and unnamed hurricane hit her house than one named after one of her husband's former girlfriends. but the protests died down and that was until late 1960s when roxie bolton spoke up. roxie bolton was a vice president and national organization of women. she said it's really horrible to associate women with these dramatic and devastating meteorological events. she really got annoyed at reading all the news coverage
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about vicious, treacherous, wild, horrific female name hurricanes coming up the coast or hitting the gold coast. so she lobbied the national weather service to change their naming system. she didn't get much traction until jimmy carter came at office, and he appointed one either crabs, the first female secretary of commerce -- one need a crabs -- a a self-descrd sent feminist. she agreed with roxie bolton and she used the considerable pressure of the united states to get the world meteorological organization to start naming hurricanes on an alternating basis after men and women and that's how we come up with the annual list of 21 names alternating between men and women. i just love that story. so talk about surprises. i knew nothing about that story and and i think it's just a
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fascinating slice of the women's movement and meteorological history. >> sweat and chat question this is roxie bolton, yay. last night can you tell us a little bit about bonita vines? >> she was a jesuit priest who took over the observatory in cuba in the mid to late, later 1800s. he was well well-versed in hisf meteorology, fascinated by it. he decided to make the blend observatory a major leader in forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the weather in the caribbean. so he went back over all the records that a been taken in the years before he arrived, organize them. he bought some barometers and other weather measurement machines, and he started
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tracking the weather on cuba on a daily basis can sometimes as many as ten times a day he would write down his observations picky also a network of people working throughout the caribbean to provide him with information. and through this he slowly came to create sort of a shorthand understanding of hurricanes. he looked at the sign, that only the brick red skies in the morning and the lowering barometric pressure and the high clouds, and the long deep swells in the ocean, but other signs and he basically became a very good forecast of hurricanes. he wasn't always right but he was right more than luck would allow. the sad part of the story is about after he died, people he had put into place, continued his observations, but right
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before the galveston hurricane of 1900, the united states basically cut off the connection between the weather bureau and the blend observatory. they didn't benefit from their observations right before the galveston hurricane came in and clobbered galveston. and if they had paid more attention to the expertise of the cubans, maybe there would've been a better evacuation. maybe the death toll wouldn't have risen so high to make it the worst national disaster in american history, with only 6000 that as many as maybe ten or 12,000. but it was a sign of the times. a lot of the americans were quite convincing the interview and, unfortunately, i think we suffer for that. >> it was mainly american that
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sever the relationship? >> american arrogance on the part of the weather bureau. he wanted everything weather related to come from washington headquarters. he definitely had a less than favorable view of the cubans who he felt were too often easily alarmed and slapped the title or the designation hurricane on too many storms. one of the things willis wanted to do is try to avoid panicking americans about oncoming threats. but sometimes panic is necessary to get people to take the action that they should be taking. >> yeah, yeah. we have been talking for an hour now. it's been a lot of fun for me and i'm sure others here before we go i wanted to be tells little bit about your next book and when you expect, i mean, is
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is going to be two years, another to your project? >> yeah. >> can you give us a little sneak peek, if you will? >> yes. it's about privateering which is so related to my hybrid book. a lot of people call them licensed pirates but one of the things that i book is going to strongly argued is that that is not a good designation. they are not licensed pirates. privateers during the american revolution played a very important role not only within the colonies but also with respect to providing goods in giving outlet to all of the sailors who can put out of work because of the onset of the american revolution but it also played a role in the outcome of the american revolution. and i think that far too often histories of that war discount
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or disparage the role of privateers. i'm hoping to write a a history that gives them the place of honor that i truly think they deserve, along with george washington and our military and congress and our founding fathers, that they are an integral part of the story that is too often overlooked. and yes, it's going to come out, i'm working on it right now. you asked before about my research project. i tend to do the research for the book before i write it. i'm just about done doing most of the research for this book and i expect in the very near future to begin writing it. but i will handed in about 18 months, 20, 22 months after i signed the contract and it will come out i guess not next year, the year after. so, not long after your book on eagles. >> will this be a morton book as will?
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>> yes, live right. >> right, right. so after writing this book on hurricanes, in writing your new book on privateering, do you have a whole new perspective of hurricanes and the role and privateering, will hurricanes feed into that book or they may not have as you've written in china? >> even eagerness to which you asked the question i wish the answer is yes, but no, i don't think hurricanes will make an appearance in the privateering book, at least not yet. >> really? >> there are some big storms but i don't think are hurricanes. >> okay. human storms as well as natural storms, right? >> yes, yes. >> well, so shall we adjourn
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here? >> it was wonderful conversation. i want to thank both of you all. very enlightening. can't wait to get more into the book, and a lot of people we will have signed copies of "a furious sky" that people want to order. just get in touch with the bookstore. eric, congratulations and much luck in the future. >> thank you. appreciate it. thanks for inviting me. tanks, , jack. >> it was my pleasure. it was so enjoyable. >> thanks, everybody for common. >> thanks for zooming in. >> okay, take care. >> weeknights this month we feature booktv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span2. tonight as part of our 2020 year in review we focus on books about business and economics.
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>> 61 million americans have some form of disability but yet we are in less than 3% of film and tv shows and of that majority of those roles are portrayed by nondisabled actors pixel ultimately as somebody with a disability we want to see ourselves represented because ultimately not only are we seeing ourselves represented but it's going to help destigmatize disability, and representation in general gets society use to
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everybody and ultimately makes the world and more inclusive place. >> actor nic novicki founded the easter seals disability film challenge in response to send disabilities underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. sunday night on q&a he will talk about this year's entries and winning films. nic novicki at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> stay with c-span for our continuing coverage of the transition of power as president-elect joe biden moves closer to the presidency with the electoral college votes cast from states across the country join us on january 6 leiva 1 p.m. eastern for the joint session of congress to count the votes and declared the winner for president and vice president. and finally at noon on january 20 the inauguration of the 46 president of the united states. our live coverage begins at
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7 a.m. eastern from the statehouse to congress to the white house watch it all live on c-span, on the or or listen using the free c-span radio app. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2, every weekend with the latest nonfiction books and authors. booktv on c-span2 created by america's cable-television company. today we are brought to you by the -- as a public service. >> okay. welcome to politics and prose live. we are here tonight with sonia shah and before we get started i just have a few quick housekeeping notes. the first thing i want to say is we will encourage anyone to ask a question during the question-and-answer portion of our event and you could do that by clicking on


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