Dark Tide

Dark Tide

The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

Book - 2004
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Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters was 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.
Publisher: Boston, Mass : Beacon Press, c2004
ISBN: 9780807050217
Branch Call Number: 363.11966 PULEO
Characteristics: 280 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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Feb 01, 2017

A very interesting read, in the vein of Erik Larson's works--part social history and part intimate retelling of the difficult fortunes of the victims. It's a tale that's easy to trivialize until you realize that the molasses tank was full of as much as 2.3 million gallons of fermenting molasses and, when the tank finally gave way, the flood of molasses came out at speeds of up to 35 mph. If you like micro-histories, I strongly recommend this one.

Dec 03, 2015

There's something here for everyone who enjoys historical nonfiction: disaster story, courtroom drama, compelling characters, and terrific nuggets of 1915-25 historical context that taught me a lot about the prejudice against Italian immigrants and the rampant anarchist bombings (both have strong echoes in today's immigration and terrorism debates). I look forward to reading Puleo's other books.


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