It's kind of a catch phrase that "Everything's bigger in Texas" and that often includes its disasters, which can be macabrely fascinating and heroically amazing. On Monday, April 24 at noon, author and historian Mike Cox will be bringing some of those major disasters in Texas history back to life, and fascinating listeners with the stories of basic human courage and grit in some of the toughest circumstances. His book is titled Texas Disasters: True Stories of Tragedy and Survival. The last Texas Author Series program for 2017 begins at noon in the auditorium of the Abilene Public Library downtown at 202 Cedar.
Cox's latest book covers tornadoes, fires, floods, drought, blizzards, shipwrecks, and other devastating events, including a yellow fever epidemic in 1867, which earned that year the grim moniker "The Year of Death." Hurricanes Ike, Rita & Katrina, and the West explosion are also included, as are synopses of other major Texas disasters that fortunately cost a lesser toll of human life.
Cox often gets his narrative 'straight from the horse's mouth,' using eyewitness accounts from survivors, rescuers, and reporters, including his own throughout his journalism career. These accounts, and the reportorial and historical precision Cox brings to his stories show just how people can step up to do heroic things in times of great tragedy. Times of great trouble often bring out the best in people, who help their neighbors and rise to the challenges given them. Cox's compassion in personalizing each of these stories sticks them in your mind even more firmly.
Another facet of this book you might not have considered is how many of these terrible disasters provided the foundation and impetus for changes that saved many lives. From the building of the Galveston seawall and the odorizing of natural gas after the New London school explosion, to the development of safe rooms in homes and the improvement of wind shear detection at airports, better precautions and prevention measures have been the results of many of these horrible events.
A detailed bibliography on each chapter is a delight for any reader with a historical bent who wants to read more about one of the disasters. Each chapter stands alone so readers can dip in and out quickly, but the entire book has threads running through it that make it difficult to put down.
Texas Author Series programs usually last about an hour. Copies of Cox's book (and perhaps some of his others) will be available for purchase and signing. There is no charge to attend, but lunch will be offered for $5.
For more information, see the library's website.
Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library