Beacon Press: Dark Tide
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Dark Tide

The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

Author: Stephen Puleo

A new 100th anniversary edition of the only adult book on one of the odder disasters in US history—and the greed, disregard for poor immigrants, and lack of safety standards that led to it.

Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters were playing cards in Boston’s North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like roaring surf, one of them said later. Like a runaway two-horse team smashing through a fence, said another. A third firefighter jumped up from his chair to look out a window—“Oh my God!” he shouted to the other men, “Run!” A 50-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses had just collapsed on Boston’s waterfront, disgorging its contents as a 15-foot-high wave of molasses that at its outset traveled at 35 miles an hour. It demolished wooden homes, even the brick fire station. The number of dead wasn’t known for days. It would be years before a landmark court battle determined who was responsible for the disaster.
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“Narrated with gusto . . . [Puleo’s] enthusiasm for a little-known catastrophe is infectious.”
The New Yorker

“Compelling . . . Puleo has done justice to a gripping historical story.”
—Ralph Ranalli, Boston Globe

“Thoroughly researched . . . weaves together the stories of the people and families affected by the disaster, with often heartbreaking glimpses of their fates . . . The cleanup lasted months, the lawsuits years, the fearful memories a lifetime.”
—Randolph E. Schmid, The Associated Press

“Giving a human face to tragedy is part of the brilliance of Stephen Puleo’s Dark Tide. . . . Until they were given voice in this book, the characters who drove the story were forgotten.”
—Caroline Leavitt, The Boston Sunday Globe

Author’s Note

Prologue: Isaac’s Demons

Part One: A Monster in Our Midst

1. Deadline on the Waterfront
2. Neighborhood Weeping
3. Along the Gulf Stream
4. War and Anarchy
5. Heavy Load

Part Two: Waves of Terror

6. Before . . .
7. Engulfed!
8. “I Am Prepared to Meet my God”
9. Darkening Skies

Part Three: David vs. Goliath

10. “One of the Worst Catastrophes”
11. Factor of Safety
12. “A Sordid Story”

List of Deceased
Bibliographic Essay
Afterword to the Anniversary Edition

Dark Tide

ISBN: 978-080707800-6
Publication Date: 1/15/2019
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $17.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.