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The Man Who Caught the Storm is the saga of the greatest tornado chaser who ever lived: a tale of obsession and daring, and an extraordinary account of humanity's high-stakes race to understand nature's fiercest phenomenon.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, the tornado was one of the last true mysteries of the modern world. It was a monster that ravaged the American heartland a thousand times each year, yet science's every effort to divine its inner workings had ended in failure. Researchers all but gave up, until the arrival of an outsider.
In a field of PhDs, Tim Samaras didn't attend a day of college in his life. He chased storms with brilliant tools of his own invention and pushed closer to the tornado than anyone else ever dared. When he achieved what meteorologists had deemed impossible, it was as if he had snatched the fire of the gods. Yet even as he transformed the field, Samaras kept on pushing. As his ambitions grew, so did the risks. And when he finally met his match – in a faceoff against the largest tornado ever recorded – it upended everything he thought he knew.
Brantley Hargrove delivers a masterful tale, chronicling the life of Tim Samaras in all its triumph and tragedy. He takes readers inside the thrill of the chase, the captivating science of tornadoes, and the remarkable character of a man who walked the line between life and death in pursuit of knowledge. Following the tradition of Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm, Hargrove's debut offers an unforgettable exploration of obsession and the extremes of the natural world.
Brantley Hargrove is a journalist who has written for Wired, Popular Mechanics, and Texas Monthly. He's gone inside the effort to reverse-engineer supertornadoes using supercomputers and has chased violent storms from the Great Plains down to the Texas coast. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Renee, and their two cats. The Man Who Caught the Storm is his first book.
"With The Man Who Caught the Storm, Brantley Hargrove has given us a thrilling tale of Promethean defiance, one that in our age of superstorms and climate change has much currency today. Pairing rich reporting with an exquisite sense of pacing, Hargrove has chased down the king of the chasers. Here is an instant classic of Americana – a story of tragedy, invention, lore, science, and a most original kind of genius who was irresistibly drawn to one of nature's most awesome and violent mysteries."
– Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and In the Kingdom of Ice
"This is what man versus nature is all about. A powerful, vivid, and ultimately heartbreaking investigation into the life of one very brave storm chaser. Brantley Hargrove has given us a masterful biography with all the best attributes of a novel."
– Skip Hollandsworth, author of The Midnight Assassin
"Insanely gripping, impossible to put down. This book takes you inside the whirling core of monster tornadoes, and the life of a maverick storm researcher who pushed his luck too far."
– Richard Grant, author of Dispatches from Pluto
"Hargrove's writing made my breath stop short. The book's ending had me in tears. A gripping depiction of a modern-day Lancelot out to pierce the heart of tornadoes that bring terror from the sky like ancient dragons."
– Lydia Reeder, author of Dust Bowl Girls
"With the perfect blend of deep reporting, incredible access, and elegant writing, this book reveals the complicated character of the most famous tornado chaser of all time – a man whose drive to finish what he started will ensure that he'll go down in history as a self-sacrificing American hero."
– Michael J. Mooney, author of The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle
"Maybe you've noticed the news: the climate is angry, and we can look forward to ever more extreme storms. In his fast-moving, page-turning book, The Man Who Caught the Storm, Brantley Hargrove captures an urgent moment in human history: a time when we're in a race not only to understand nature's increasingly raw power, but also to survive it."
– Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean