... chapter one is a lull in an otherwise compelling book—a dry accounting of Europeans settling the New World while hurricanes interfered. The story picks back up when Benjamin Franklin watches what he believes are two consecutive storms ... Dolin takes full advantage of the time-honored character versus nature story and the natural narrative arc of a hurricane. He pulls details from newspaper coverage, journals, books, and oral histories. With active language and sharp characters, he puts us in scene ... Thanks to Dolin’s reporting and framing, each hurricane is a different story that delivers its own lesson about human nature.
...[a] lively chronicle of five tempestuous centuries ...At the start of A Furious Sky, Dolin, who has written several previous books on maritime topics, writes that 'hurricanes have left an indelible mark on American history.' He suggests that it’s particularly important to attend to this mark now because climate change is only going to make storms 'more powerful and more destructive in the future.' But he never develops a clear argument as to what the societal impact of hurricanes has been (besides a lot of devastation and death), or what we can expect it to be going forward (aside from more of the same). Where A Furious Sky is most compelling is in its often harrowing details. It’s filled with haunting personal stories.
Dolin, who has a doctorate in environmental sciences, has created a highly readable and densely fact-filled study. Most Americans remember at least one particular hurricane --- from childhood, direct experience or the memories of an earlier generation --- whether because of dreadful loss, unsettling fears or a near-miss. And through this literate survey, they can recall, re-examine and understand it in finer detail.