Sunday, October 09, 2005


Amazingly, Michael Brown Wasn't Involved

There's a brief but worthy article in the Boston Globe about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 :

On Wednesday, the Weymouth-based author and historian [Stephen Puelo] will visit the Barnes & Noble in Bellingham to read from Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 (Beacon Press). At the event, Puleo will not only discuss the 15-foot-high wave of molasses that spilled from a North End storage tank, leaving death and devastation in its suffocating wake, he also will tell how he researched the long-forgotten facts of the story.

''There was no book on the flood.... After a year and a half of looking, the court archivist finally called me one day and said she had found the trial transcripts, all 40 volumes, all 25,000 pages," he said, adding that she also found the trial damage awards.... Among the issues Puleo ties in are World War I (the molasses was distilled into industrial alcohol used to produce military explosives) and the anarchy movement (the tank owners stated that anarchists blew up the tank). Immigration is explored as well. ''Most of the residents of the North End were Italian, they were immigrants, and they were not citizens, so they had very little to say," Puleo said. ''So this monstrous 2.3 million-gallon tank placed 3 feet from Commercial Street was erected without a whimper of protest, and no city official complained even after it started to leak from day one."

An interesting note here: books coverage typically has the shelf life of a bottle of milk. It's rare for a paper to cover a book that has been out for much more than a month -- two, at most, if the author's big. Puelo's book has been out for over two years now, and the Globe -- not to mention the Bellingham Barnes & Noble -- deserve kudos for not giving in to this incessant and ridiculous pressure for "timeliness."

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