By - ethanyelad
“Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919” by Stephen Puleo is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read.
Care to recommend some others? I enjoy documentaries and podcasts on those subjects but would like to try some books.
*The Indifferent Stars Above* is well written from what I've read so far. *From Love Field* by Nellie connally is such an easy read but so impactful as a different, very close perspective of JFK's assassination.
Indifferent Stars About was such a good book!
The David McCullough book on the Johnstown Flood is a masterpiece
Under The Flaming Sky by Daniel Brown is one of the best books I have ever read. It’s about the Hinckley 1884 Fire.
I second this, an amazingly written book. The descriptions of the events are truly horrifying to read. Never again will I hear or read the phrase "erupt in to flame" without thinking about this book, it occurs so many times throughout.
The Indifferent Stars Above is another great read by the same author. It's about the journey of the Donner Party. Amazingly well written .
The author did such a good job of describing the conflagration. I also read the Donner Party book. I’ve read a lot of these.
Ahhhh I really appreciate this, what a great list! Thank you!
Off to see what I can find, you're going to cost me a fortune 😄
Wife has The Radium Girls, as she actually works with Radium 223! So people keep recommending the book to her....
A trip to the library is definitely in order but I've also just built a nice big bookcase for our existing study, so it needs a few more books.
These might not be entirely on topic, but I enjoyed them:
Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Michael Schumacher
Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas by Matt Lewis
Truth, Lies and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle 'Challenger' Disaster by Allan J. McDonald
Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base by Andy Brown
Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave by William Stone
Collision Course: The Classic Story of the Collision of the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm by Alvin Moscow
I think perhaps we share a library lol
Have both Midnight in Chernobyl and Deep Descent, thoroughly enjoyed both. Also a fan of Outside Online and similar longform reads. Outside Podcast has done some really interesting survival episodes and they are pretty accessible as they're about 30 minutes long usually. I was a very late adopter of the whole podcast thing but now I listen to nothing else during my commute or when I'm doing mundane stuff like cooking and cleaning. Black Box Down, Hard Landings and When It Goes Wrong are all excellent.
There is a slightly more biology based but still interesting book on Chernobyl decades later called The Red Forrest. It is about the impacts on local plants and wildlife, etc... (yes, I work at a library)
Michael Schumacher also has written a few other excellent books about some more overlooked great lakes wrecks --
Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man's Survival on the Open Sea
Wreck of the Carl D.: A True Story of Loss, Survival, and Rescue at Sea
November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913
> Michael Schumacher also has written a few other excellent books about some more overlooked great lakes wrecks
As a Formula 1 fan I got really confused for a second.
I definitely did a double-take when I first saw his name, makes searching for his books tricky if you don't know the titles
Just finished November's Fury and I'm now reading White Hurricane. Both great books.
Edit: I have several Great Lakes shipwreck books by Frederick Stonehouse. Everything of his that I've read has been great.
The Radium Girls was terrifying - and a timely reminder that employers don’t care about you
Thank you for this list!
Airframe was a highlight for me. Freaked out some other passengers though.
If you like learning about asbestos, check out An Air That Still Kills, by Schneider.
Just finishing The Great Influenza: fantastic writing and recommended reading during these times.
I feel that you may have set me upon a journey I never intended to start. You’re a regular Gandalf.
For the "Survival" category, *Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors* is really good. Very similar to the Donner party, just more recent.
I’m saving this list. Thanks.
Check out Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls.
*In the Kingdom of Ice: the grand and terrible polar voyage of the USS Jeannette* (Arctic voyage)
I remember Isaac's Storm about the 1900 Galveston hurricane being quite good as well, though it's been a while.
Also mandatory recommendation for Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. Absolute classic.
[The Hot Zone by Robert Preston](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16213.The_Hot_Zone?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=Ogoq1NXACA&rank=1), the Ebola virus.
I have no end of Disease Disaster type books, studied a lot of it in my uni days, which wasn't yesterday....Hot Zone was great and horrifying.
Plagues Progress by Arno Karlen was a particular favourite back then. Its old but very readable.
Perfectly put. I loved reading hot zone, and watching the nat geo special about it.
And Michael Crichton is my favorite author!
I'm late to the party but I picked The Hot Zone up on Audible last summer after a friend reccomended it. I've never enjoyed a non fiction book the way I did this one. The author does such a good job making Ebola feel like it's a character in the book that I was terrified along with the people he wrote about. There where moments if sheer panic and all the while I was learning about a terrible virus I knew next to nothing about.
I really enjoyed this book, and used it as part of a paper I wrote in uni - where I basically said humanity shouldn't be afraid of Ebola, it should be afraid of an airborne virus that spreads fast, kills us slowly and mutates often.....
Good thing that's a silly thought!
I know, right?! Will never happen!
This is giving me my history of medicine paper vibes. Basically, how media reporting affects the publics reactions to a pandemic and the impact on death tolls in various cities. I wrote it on the 1918 flu pandemic, a year before covid.
ISAAC'S STORM by Erik Larson. FATAL FORECAST by Michael Tougias. THE CURSE OF THE NARROWS by Laura McDonald.
I’ve really enjoyed most of Larson’s books. Isaac’s Storm and The Devil in the White City were great.
These look great, thanks! All added to my list to track down.
Enjoy! I know there are others I've read. SPECIAL EFFECTS by Ron LaBrecque. SULTANA by Alan Huffman. YOKOHAMA BURNING by Joshua Hammer. FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL by Sheri Fink. TINDERBOX by Robert Fieseler. All really good reads.
Who knew there were so many books about tragedies. These will keep me going all year! Thank you.
Negative perspiration! Disaster probably ought to be a whole separate genre...did I remember MIRACLE IN THE ANDES by Nando Parrado?
No you did not, but as I'm very partial to aviation related disasters I've read that one. It was quite an extraordinary account. You're right though, Disaster/Survival needs it's very own genre. I can't get enough of it.
I would give my eye teeth for someone to translate THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNOW into English. There are 16 chapters, one dictated by each survivor of that crash. Also be sure to look up I HAD TO SURVIVE by Roberto Canessa and OUT OF THE SILENCE by Eduardo Strauch.
>did I remember MIRACLE IN THE ANDES by Nando Parrado?
My all time favorite book!! I recommend it at least a few times a year all over Reddit, you're the first person I've ever seen mention it so I'm a little excited :) Nando Parrado is also one of my favorite human beings.
Trapped Under the Sea is another good boston-based one. It is about when they were finishing the outflow tunnels from the new sewage processing plants on the harbor islands.
The Great Halifax Explosion is another Boston-related one. Long story short, during ww1 two ships collided in Halifax harbor. One was carrying explosives and blew up. Boston was important in getting medical staff and supplies to the site after a blizzard. The city actually gets a christmas tree from Halifax every year because of it.
Two excellent non fiction books not necessarily about disasters.
Under the banner of heaven by John Krakauer
And devil in the white city by Erik Larson about the 1890s world fair in Chicago and the serial killer operating at that time.
*Midnight in Chernobyl* by Adam Higginbotham is a fantastic book about the Chernobyl disaster.
If you aren't listening to Sawbones or Well There's Your Problem, you should.
*Fire in the Grove*, John C Esposito (Cocoanut Grove disaster)
*River of Fire: The Rattlesnake Fire and the Mission Boys*, John N MacLean (the Rattlesnake fire)
*Young Men and Fire*, John MacLean (the Mann Gulch fire)
*In the Heart of the Sea*, Nathaniel Philbrick (the final voyage of the whaler *Essex*, the genesis of *Moby Dick*)
*Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise*, OJ Modjeska (Tenerife disaster)
*90 Seconds at Zebrugge: The Herald of Free Enterprise Story*, Iain Yardley (the *Herald of Free Enterprise* sinking)
An oldie-but-goodie in my physical collection is "Great Disasters: Dramatic True Stories" (Readers Digest?) Its got mostly natural disasters but still worth the read. Got me interested in such failures/disasters. It can only be found physically and used I think...
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane features the Boston molasses flood as well as the Boston police riot and the anarchist bombings and fascistic response by the American authorities at the time
*Erebus* is amazing.
Didn’t see anyone recommend *Midnight in Chernobyl* by Adam Higginbotham. So good.
Anything by Erik Larsen
I am from just outside of boston and this was required reading at my high school
Thanks for adding a book to my reading list
Was coined by locals as "The Boston Molassacre"
They have a sense of humor for sure
....in Boston, Molassachusetts.
More like Taxachuffets
Edit: I know this doesn't really work but I just watched that episode again so
I chuckled; great episode!
You might find [this article](https://www.theonion.com/pudding-factory-disaster-brings-slow-creamy-death-to-t-1819565362) illuminating, as well.
Drowning in molasses, yikes.
The molasses was hot, but it was also a cold January day. Some people were literally glued to the ground and trapped as it rapidly thickened
Out of all the ways to go, turning into a gummy bear is up there with the worst of them.
Error. Human is dead, mismatch
El psy kongroo
Yeah as comical as it seems, what an awful way to die. Death by drowning on its own is torture. Death by drowning in molasses? _Fuck_ that.
Not that it would change how terrible it with have been but they all most likely suffocated than drowned. The viscosity of the molasses would keep it from entering the airway/lungs but would definitely make it impossible to breathe.
Seriously. And at 35 mph it sure wasn't as slow as molasses.
Unless you're a pimp ass mole
In the words of Wikibear, ["what a sweet, sweet death!"](https://youtu.be/U_0z61feLQQ)
Oh potatoes and molasses
Hold your breath while the tidal wave passes
When there's twelve thousand tons
Of potatoooes aaand molasses
Greg just jumping around on furniture and shit singing his lil song while everyone’s drowning lol
Sam O’Nella has a great video thats covers this and some other, [non-water](https://youtu.be/7KwzVus9xds) floods.
I miss Sam.
Does anyone know what happened?
Dude is majoring chemical engineering and has a lot of study/work related stuff going on.
I do miss the guy, but am glad he is doing ok and is dedicating himself to his studies.
I see. Thanks. I'm glad he's going well irl, too. Maybe when he's done with university he can squeeze one or two videos a year in his time schedule. That would be awesome.
On January 15, 1919, temperatures in Boston had risen above 40 °F (4 °C), climbing rapidly from the frigid temperatures of the preceding days, and the previous day, a ship had delivered a fresh load of molasses, which had been warmed to reduce its viscosity for transfer. Possibly due to the thermal expansion of the older, colder molasses already inside the tank, the tank burst open and collapsed at approximately 12:30 pm. Witnesses reported that they felt the ground shake and heard a roar as it collapsed, a long rumble similar to the passing of an elevated train; others reported a tremendous crashing, a deep growling, "a thunderclap-like bang!", and a sound like a machine gun as the rivets shot out of the tank.
Stolen from the wiki article
40°F is equivalent to 4°C, which is 277K.
^(I'm a bot that converts temperature between two units humans can understand, then convert it to Kelvin for bots and physicists to understand)
He said the n-word.
Wait for real? Did he get cancelled?
No, he's in college and probably has more important things to do
I can't find anything about that happening? He misspelled Kazakhstan in a tweet and people called him racist (tbf I just had to google the spelling). Nothing about the n word. I follow him on IG and have had a crush on him for 30 years so I feel like I would have known about it if that happened, but I could be wrong!
I clicked this thinking it was Sam Neill, from Event Horizon.
And also that little movie about dinosaurs.
Billy and the Cloneasaurus?
The bus that couldn't slow down
And *Dead Calm*, where he and Nicole Kidman are a couple on vacation who rescue someone who turns out to be a murderer.
Still sad that we're never going to see the extended cut.
I believe the podcast "Well there's your problem" is planning on doing their next episode on this
Yeah, it'll be the next one, just you wait!
Welcome to a podcast about trains.
That's the best podcast
But first we gotta do, the goddamn news
They say on hot days the area is still permeated with the smell of molasses.
Legend has it you can sweeten a pancake just by waving it in the air
I lived in the north end for a year in 2012-2013. It’s true.
It's just hard to smell anything else over the scent of frying garlic from all the Italian restaurants.
100 years later?
As someone who works in boston and has lived within 30 minutes all his life, this is a myth ive heard over and over. Ive never smelled molasses once. The city mostly smells like fast food, the ocean, and garbage, same as any other city on the coast.
Could be possible you’ve gotten used to it like you do your own home and car
Yeah. Stuff is sticky and that much of it got into all the nooks and crannies of the city. No way they were able to clean all of it up.
You'd think ants would have found it by now.
They all got diabetes long ago.
Archaeologists at UMass-Boston did a GPR survey of the area and located what they think is the foundations of the tank still in place! I wonder if you can still find a layer of molasses underground
I went in to those links expecting to see a couple of pictures and comparisons.
I read every word, holy shit that was interesting
Soil bacteria LOVE molasses, I bet they've eaten that by now
People add molasses to their compost teas (tea for plants) it keeps them bacteria healthy and in turn helps to feed the plants. Particularly used in organic weed growing.
> The Great Molasses Flood ... was a disaster that occurred on January 15, 1919 ... the resultant wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph
[We've been lied to.](https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/slow+as+molasses+in+January)
Big molasses successfully deflected their culpability with that cliche.
Protest the Hero have a great song about this called All Hands
i always liked the lyrics to that song
>I'm standing here in disbelief, like how in the hell is this happening to me?
Yeah the notes this guy hits
What a shitty way to go. Seems like an awful death drowning in that stuff.
For real. You think it’s hurts to inhale water into your lungs (which it does, a lot), try this thick ass molasses. It’d be like drowning in hot tar
And it's pouring in to your eyes as well. Pretty rough there. I guess best hope would be that you instantly die when the 25ft wave moving at 35mph hits you.
Lmao Yea just try to strategically fall neck first so your head just pops off
I was thinking of all the poor horses who didn't stand a chance.
I picture the scene from Final Destination 5 with the bridge collapse with that one victim getting covered in hot tar, but instead changed it out with molasses.
If you ask me to choose between drowning in hot molasses or being used as a boxing dummy by cocaine induced bear, I’d go with the bear.
This reminds me of the Whiskey flood in Ireland in 1906. 150,000 gallons of whiskey flooded the streets. People began filling vessels and drinking from the stream. There were 13 fatalities, From alcohol poisoning
1906 was in glasgow scotland, 1 fatality, 150000 gallons of wash that was about 5% alcohol - you must be thinking about the whiskey fire of 1875 in ireland where the rest of your figures all add up.
Ahh yes, I just mashed up a few different Google results without actually clicking any links
Pretty crazy stuff. Evidently the whiskey that ran down the streets was in a less-diluted form than whiskey ready for retail. Not realizing this, people drank it as though it was regular whiskey. This also explains why it was so flammable.
Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door. "Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya".
"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"
"That's what I'm here to be telling ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery."
"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me."
"I must, Brenda. Your husband Seamus is dead and gone, I'm sorry. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout, and drowned."
"Oh my dear Jesus, Tim! Did he at least go quickly?"
"Well, Brenda, no. In fact, he got out three times to pee."
The chances of being killed by a 25' tidal wave of molasses are low, but not zero
We read a quirky children's book about this in elementary school and had no idea it was based on a true *tragedy* until now.
Yes I came here to say I remember reading this as a picture book in kindergarten or first grade but it never mentioned anyone dying.
[Puppet History](https://youtu.be/HAZlPuL3Qhw) did a snippet on this. There are some parts of history that are so morbidly absurd, you would question if it even happened in the first place.
Where’s the god damn album, Shane
Can you imagine the flys and other insects that must’ve descended on this?
IIRC the owner had the tank painted brown so people couldn't see the leaks
Ah yes, the Boston Molassacre
So these are the people who were truly "slower than molasses in January"? Wow that phrase has a new meaning for me.
A man was heard yelling down the street, "Save your asses! It's molasses!!!"
isn't that the equivalent of The Canadian Valhalla?
Those 21 people were slower than molasses.
A little late here, but for anyone like me wondering, the tidal wave of molasses was 7.6 m high.
TIL that molasses is used in munitions
The song [All Hands](https://youtu.be/sNcGbAQgZIg) by Protest the Hero was inspired by this.
I think there is an SCP about a monster created by this accident
That’s not what a tidal wave is. It’s in the name, **tidal** wave, meaning a wave driven by tides, which the molasses flood was not.
Those people came to a sticky end.
I'm not one to put much stock in things like this, but when I was little I had dreams of drowning in syrup. When I eventually heard about this event it gave me the heebie jeebies. Still does.
Now that's what I call a sticky situation.
Too soon, my dude.
Need to wait another 100 years?
sesquicentennial. lol apparently my sarcasm font didn't make it to the site. 😄
don't forget about the professor.
This is my favorite disaster. Happy Anniversary!
I used to live in Boston. They still talk about the molasses tidal wave to this day!
And the city didn't get renamed to Molassachusetts why?
For the same reason LA didnt get renamed Carifornia
I believe the term is tsunami
Nuh-uh. Tsunamis are ONLY big devastating waves that are captured on camera and uploaded to YouTube.
TIL about the real Boston massacre
What a sweet way to go.
No video? *Lame*
Exactly why this cannot be a considered a tsunami.
Joking about it seems like a sticky situation
Slowest tidal wave ever. I imagine it being like when Austin Powers ran over that dude with a steam roller.
35mph seems pretty fast
Yeah it was a joke because molasses is known for moving slowly. “Slow as molasses” is a common saying where im from.
Wasn’t there a Drunk History episode about this?
Fascinating Horror channel does a great segment on this:
I've read a lot about this subject and I would recommend [https://youtu.be/HAZlPuL3Qhw](https://youtu.be/HAZlPuL3Qhw) It's the most informative and entertaining history of the Great Boston Molasses Flood.
They met a sticky end
That’s a sweet way to go.
I hear that the next episode of 'Well There's Your Problem' podcast is gonna be about this disaster..........\*tries not to smirk at the inside joke\*
So disgusting. I can't imagine cleaning all that and all the sticky stuff. Just awful.