Around noon on January 15, 1919, a group of firefighters were playing cards in Boston's North End when they heard a tremendous crash. It was like, "a 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.
One of AudioFile magazine's Best Voices of the Century and Publishers Weekly's Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005, Grover Gardner is the recipient of dozens of awards, and listeners will easily understand why. Gardner's diction is reminiscent of classic American radio and provides an evocative feeling to this non-fiction exploration of the molasses flood that overwhelmed Boston on January 15, 1919. The rough edge of Gardner's voice adds texture to its velvety sound as he describes the disaster and its context, easily weaving together the various elements involved, from Prohibition to the anarchist movement to immigration. Listeners will find themselves absorbed by this little-known catastrophe.
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