The Raging Sea: The Heroic Story of America’s Worst Tidal Wave (Book Review)

6/12/2006 • Book Reviews

Reviewed by Philip Brandt George for American History Magazine
By Dennis M. Powers
Citadel Press, 2005

As the world rallies in support of the victims of the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia, attorney and author Dennis M. Powers reminds us that a similar natural disaster struck the United States not long ago. On Good Friday, 1964, the town of Crescent City, Calif., was preparing for a long Easter weekend as a massive earthquake ripped through Alaska. Measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale — the largest quake in North American history and the second largest ever recorded — it set off a series of tsunamis that would hit the town, instantly creating both victims and heroes.

Weaving together historical research with compelling survivors’ accounts, The Raging Sea re-creates the events of that night when 30 city blocks were ravaged, 289 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged and 11 people lost their lives. But Powers’ tale is not just one of disaster, it is also one of courage and hope. Chronicling how many brave souls pulled together to save the lives of friends and strangers, often at the risk of their own, it is a testimonial to the iron will and spirit of the residents of Crescent City and to their determination to survive in the face of calamity.

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