Staff Pick — John — THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER: TALES OF STORMS, DROUGHT, DESTRUCTION, AND PERSEVERANCE, by Johnny D. Boggs, DT 07156

It’s been said that Texas has four seasons: drought, flood, blizzard, and twister.

There’s some truth in that.  But like root canals and head cheese, bad weather is something I’d rather read about than experience.

That’s the beauty of Johnny D. Boggs’ THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER: TALES OF STORMS, DROUGHT, DESTRUCTION, AND PERSEVERANCE (DT 07156).  Boggs puts the reader in the middle of stifling droughts, deadly floods, and fearsome storms—but firmly out of harm’s way.  Just the way I like it.

Boggs shares true-life stories of calamitous Texas weather, from the 1882 Ben Ficklin flood and the blizzard of 1886 to the heartbreaking 1987 Saragosa tornado.  Weathering frigid blue northers and dodging softball-sized hail, Boggs highlights unsung Texans who meet death and devastation with courage and heroism.

THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER is spiked with delicious nuggets of Texas history.  We meet the utopian namesakes of Reunion Tower in Dallas.  We learn why San Angelo, not Santa Angela, is the seat of Tom Green county.  And we discover the blessings—and the curses—of drift fences.  Boggs even explores the U. S Department of Agriculture’s “concussive” 1891 rainmaking experiment.

Boggs writes award-winning western novels, but he cut his teeth as a sportswriter in Dallas and Fort Worth.  His experience as a reporter is evident in his tight writing and eye for telling detail.  Boggs also displays a novelist’s gift for infusing his narrative with incisive slivers of humanity.

An undercurrent that flows through THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER is the certainty that no matter how dire the circumstances, Texans don’t lose faith in the future.  They find the resilience and grit to rebuild and recover.  Resilience and grit are still core Texan attributes.  Even in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texans continue to persevere despite that terrible Texas weather.

NLS Annotation:  Through a collection of newspaper reports and eyewitness accounts of victims caught up in some of the most devastating weather Texas has ever produced, this is a sampler of Texas weather through the years.  From the hurricanes of Indianola and Galveston to the tornado at Wichita Falls to the drought and heat wave of 1998, these are the stories of the people who perished and the people who endured, and of their Texas-sized courage and heroism.  Contains some violence.

A sampling of Johnny Boggs’ western fiction includes HARD WINTER: A WESTERN STORY (DB 72627); ONCE THEY WORE THE GRAY (DB 80003); SPARK ON THE PRAIRIE: A GUNS AND GAVEL NOVEL (DB 64703); and PURGATOIRE (DB 73519).

More information about author Johnny D. Boggs is at: http://www.johnnydboggs.com/

A classic account of terrible Texas weather is THE TIME IT NEVER RAINED (DB 49217), by the incomparable Elmer Kelton.  Although a work of fiction, it’s rooted in Kelton’s lived experiences during the 1950s drought.  (Kelton makes cameo appearances in THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER.)

ISAAC’S STORM: A MAN, A TIME, AND THE DEADLIEST HURRICANE IN HISTORY (DB 48811), by Erik Larson, is a riveting account of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

Larson discusses ISAAC’S STORM at the 1999 Texas Book Festival: https://www.c-span.org/video/?153573-1/isaacs-storm.

Al Roker of “The Today Show” offers a fresh look the Galveston Hurricane in THE STORM OF THE CENTURY: TRAGEDY, HEROISM, SURVIVAL, AND THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF AMERICA’S DEADLIEST NATURAL DISASTER: THE GREAT GULF HURRICANE OF 1900 (DB 85045).

Texas figures prominently in THE WORST HARD TIME: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL (DR 01742), by Timothy Egan.

Dig deeper into the American Dust Bowl with author Egan: https://www.c-span.org/video/?200420-1/the-worst-hard-time.

Experience “Surviving the Dust Bowl”: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/dustbowl/

WHAT STANDS IN A STORM: THREE DAYS IN THE WORST SUPERSTORM TO HIT THE SOUTH’S TORNADO ALLEY (DB 83439) is a nonfiction weather thriller.  Author Kim Cross chronicles the swatch of 757 tornadoes that ravaged the South in April 2011.

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