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A riveting narrative look at one of the most colorful, dangerous, and peculiar places in America's historical landscape: the strange, wonderful, and mysterious Mississippi River of the 19th century.
Beginning in the early 1800s and climaxing with the siege of Vicksburg in 1863, Wicked River brings to life a place where river pirates brushed elbows with future presidents and religious visionaries shared passage with thieves. Here is a minute-by-minute account of Natchez being flattened by a tornado; the St. Louis harbor being crushed by a massive ice floe; hidden, nefarious celebrations of Mardi Gras; and the sinking of the Sultana, the worst naval disaster in American history. Here, too, is the Mississippi itself: gorgeous, perilous, and unpredictable. Masterfully told, Wicked River is an exuberant work of Americana that portrays a forgotten society on the edge of revolutionary change.
In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin retraces America's fascination and unique relationship to tornadoes and the weather. From Ben Franklin's early experiments, to "the great storm debates" of the nineteenth century, to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin shows how tornado chasing helped foster the birth of meteorology, recreating with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America's history. Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and numerous archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists that changed a nation and how successive generations came to understand and finally coexist with the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.