The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
By Stephen Puleo
(Beacon Press (MA), Paperback, 9780807050217, 280pp.)
Publication Date: September 2004
List Price: $17.00*
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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.
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, 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, Boston Sunday Globe