What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the South’s Tornado Valley

Kim Cross. Atria, $25 (285p) ISBN 978-1-4767-6306-4
Expanding on an article first published in Southern Living magazine, Alabama-based journalist Cross’s gripping chronicle of the events of April 27, 2011—the deadliest day of the largest tornado outbreak in history—is divided into three parts: “The Storm,” “The Aftermath” and “The Recovery.” The first section introduces readers to various people on the scene when the storm hit, including veteran TV meteorologist James Spann, storm chasers Brian Peters and Tim Coleman, and the civilians—both survivors and soon-to-be victims—caught in nature’s path of destruction. All told, 252 Alabama residents lost their lives in one of the 62 tornadoes that terrorized the state that day. The gruesome second section re-creates the panic and despair that set in when the wind died and the dust settled, revealing wiped-out communities and mangled corpses while inspiring random acts of kindness among strangers. Victims and their families struggle to seek closure and peace in the third and final section. Cross conducted more than 100 hours of interviews, and her detail-oriented reporting anchors a novelist’s flair for drama. Horrifying depictions of the monster storms and gut-wrenching scenes of loss make other accounts of Tuscaloosa’s tragic tornados (including Lars Anderson’s The Storm and The Tide) tame by comparison. Agent: Jim Hornfischer, Hornfischer Literary Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/12/2015
Release date: 03/10/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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