The Storm that Changed America

Scholastic Inc.
ISBN: 0-590-67309-2
ISBN: 0590673106 now in paperback
Ages: 11 and up


  • ALA Robert F. Sibert Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction
  • The Jefferson Cup Award
  • An ALA Notable Book
  • An ALA Best Books for Young People
  • Hornbook Fanfare Book
  • A SLJ Best Book
  • A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book
  • A CBC/NCSS Notable Book

On March 10, 1888, people were picnicking on the east coast. Two days later, a massive and unpredicted snowstorm was raging. From Delaware to Maine, the coast was paralyzed by hurricane force winds and unrelenting snow. Many places had more than four feet of snow. Hundreds of ships were lost at sea; tens of thousands of workers were stranded; telephone and telegraph wires went dead; and food and coal become scarce. In New York City alone, eight hundred died.

Use of first person accounts, diaries, letters and individual stories charting the course of the storm enables readers to experience the drama of the disaster firsthand. At the same time, readers are presented with a fascinating window into late 19th Century science, transportation, communication, and daily life. Blizzard! simultaneously explores the long-range impact of the storm in which above-ground transportation yielded to underground subways; unpredicted storms yielded to long-term weather forecasting; communications failures yielded to underground telephone and telegraph wiring; and chaos yielded to the birth of large-scale emergency planning. After the Great Blizzard, life was never the same.

Kirkus Reviews (starred): "Skillfully done: humorous, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking and chilling."

School Library Journal (starred): "A fascinating account. The text is exciting without being melodramatic. The narrative is a seamless blend of history and adventure."

Booklist (starred): "Like [The Great Fire] this is an example of stellar nonfiction."

Publisher's Weekly: "With a confident tone, Murphy brings listeners back in time to March 12, 1888 and provide[s] a captivating blend of gravity, immediacy and drama... [A] gripping history lesson.