Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
1 journaler for this copy...
The book wasn't quite what I expected, but was an interesting read. It's more of a snapshot of local and world events at the time, with the disaster as a unifying element; anarchist bombings, impending Prohibition, World War I, the great influenza epidemic - all of these affected the situation, either as an indirect cause of the tank failure or as part of the lengthy and costly court case that followed. (There's a brief history of the molasses trade itself, which had a bigger role than I'd have thought; it was part of a three-way circuit of trade including slaves and rum, the "Triangle Trade". New England ships would carry cargos of rum to Africa to trade for slaves; the slaves would be sold in the West Indies for new cargoes of local goods including large quantities of molasses, which would be hauled back to New England to be distilled into rum...)
Was the failure of the tank due to hasty construction, brought on by a desire to make as much profit as possible before Prohibition kicked in? Was it due to anarchist bombs, or to sabotage? The evidence seems clear enough now, but at the time of the event people weren't so sure. The book sets the scene, describes the location and the people involved, builds to the day of the disaster itself, and after recounting the destruction caused by the collapse and the heartbreaking agonies of the victims and survivors, devotes the last half of the text to the trial, and to the lingering effects of the case on safety statutes and on the survivors. It's a bit dry, all in all, but contained a lot of information that I hadn't known about Boston circa 1919.
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