cover image The Great Hurricane: 1938

The Great Hurricane: 1938

Cherie Burns. Blackstone Audiobooks, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7861-7779-0

Post-Hurricane Katrina, Burns' meticulously researched account of a hurricane that devastated the New England coast hits home even more than it would have before. Fields' reading is perfectly tuned to the way the tragedy unfolded, so while there are no sound effects or other extras, the modulations in her voice provide tension and emotion to spare. Burns uncovered myriad personal stories about the experience, and as Fields relates the struggles of one individual after another during the day it struck, the listener is caught up intimately in the drama. Fields does an excellent job of highlighting, with notes of amazement, New Englanders' initial response to the storm-some were pleased at the excitement, and many were so unworried that they carried on stubbornly with their plans for weddings and picnics-but she also inflects her voice with appropriate dark foreboding. As Burns builds up a background for understanding the storm's effect, listeners may be bored by the long but somewhat generic descriptions of 1930s American life. Fortunately, any such feelings are more than countered by the minute details she has gathered of people's actions before and during the hurricane, which create a vivid picture in the listener's mind and make it feel all the more tragic to hear about the unprecedented havoc wrought by the wind and rain.