I read the last quarter of Jim Murphy’s Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America aloud to my dad on the way to Meridian, Idaho, and ultimately, I wish I’d read the whole thing that way. I read the first three quarters in tiny bits at the end of long, busy days, which is never ideal for my focus and a book’s continuity. I brought it with me when we visited my parents last weekend, however, and after eating lunch in Burley, I pulled Murphy’s book out of the back of the car on a whim. I don’t read well in the car anymore, but the freeway was straight, the weather optimal, and I knew it would interest my dad. He was a professor of geography before he retired, teaching–among other things–a course on human response to disaster (the blizzard of 1888 changed how cities in America responded to disasters). I never had the chance to attend any of those lectures, but he also taught a summer field trip course, and he took as much of our family with him as he could on each trip. In fact, my parents took us all over New England and the rest of the country when we were young, building in us a love of history that I’ve never lost. Now my father is struggling with dementia, my mother with her eyesight, and both of them are in their 70s. They love their children and grandchildren fiercely, however, and it made my heart happy to share something with my father in a way that felt a bit like old times again. (It also helped pass the time–for both of us!)
And what of the book, you ask? Bottom line–Murphy does an excellent job with intermediate non-fiction, and Blizzard! was no exception.