Everything In Its Path

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Theme Perks Incorporated, Jan 1, 2003 - 164 pages
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Just after midnight on March 13, 1928 the recently constructed St. Francis Dam gave way, releasing a 160-foot-high wall of water down San Francisquito Canyon. The torrent swept huge pieces of the dam, some weighing thousands of tons, more than a half mile downstream. Four hours later the water thundered into the Pacific Ocean after erasing nearly everything in its 50-mile path. By morning, more than five hundred people were dead or missing. It was the worst American civil engineering disaster of the twentieth century.Everything In Its Path tells the story of Santa Paula archaeologist Randall Thompson and his daughter Kate, who are excavating a Chumash Indian site in San Francisquito Canyon. As the dig progresses, Randall is puzzled by remains interred beneath a layer of silt. Kate explores the town of Castaic Junction and the dam?s powerhouse, she getting to know the real-life residents. Then she makes an alarming discovery: the dam is leaking!Intertwined with Kate and Randall?s story is that of the prehistoric Chumash settlement. Tribe member Singing Bird is tormented by dreams of water, and her village being swept away. But leader Lone Wolf belittles her premonitions, and threatens her if she speaks out. As storm clouds gather, Singing Bird must decide whether to submit to Lone Wolf or try to save the tribe from the awful event she foresees.Across the centuries the two girls? fates are drawn together, culminating in a remarkable discovery as they struggle to save their loved ones from a force that will sweep away Everything In Its Path.

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Exciting and accurate account of the greatest civil engineering disaster in the US during the 20th century.
Just after midnight on March 13, 1928 the St. Francis Dam gave way, releasing a 160-foot
-high wall of water. It was the worst American civil engineering disaster of the twentieth century. Everything In Its Path tells the story of Kate, an archaeologist's daughter, who is helping excavate a Chumash Indian site below the dam when she makes an alarming discovery: the dam is leaking! Intertwined with Kate's story is that of the prehistoric Chumash settlement. Tribe member Singing Bird is tormented by dreams of water, and her village being swept away. But leader Lone Wolf belittles her premonitions, and threatens her if she speaks out. As storm clouds gather, Singing Bird must decide whether to submit to Lone Wolf or try to save the tribe from the awful event she foresees. Across the centuries the two girls' fates are drawn together, culminating in a remarkable discovery as they struggle to save their loved ones from a force that will sweep away Everything In Its Path.
Aside from the thriller-type page-turning dramatic aspect of both stories, I found the historical aspects interesting. For example, it certainly was fun to read about a time when gasoline cost just ten cents per gallon, and people needed to use blocks of ice to keep their food from spoiling. Also, it was a politically innocent time when you could just go out and dig up Native American skeletons and no one would think of you as doing anything but Archeology.
The story line from 1540 was fascinating since it presented a lot of information about the Chumash Indians, which are usually presented so matter of factly. Even though the book is short, by the end you have a very good picture of the details of Chumash daily life, which Alcorn somehow makes interesting, and a fairly rich imagining of Chumash spiritual life as well.
Aside from the anthropology, the best part of the book was the dam disaster and its aftermath. The preamble to the disaster, and the dam collapse itself, are related with an extremely light touch. You might expect that a novel about a civil engineering disaster to be filled with a dull engineering back-story. But then you might also expect to guess the endings of the stories of the two girls. You would be wrong in both cases.
I can honestly say that when Everything In Its Path arrived on my doorstep from Amazon, I started reading it right away, even though I was already reading a novel I had been looking forward to reading for eight years: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I actually found Alcorn's novel about the St. Francis Dam Disaster of 1928 absorbing and involving right from the start and I finished reading it before I read another page of Harry Potter's final adventure.
 

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