3 minutes reading time (571 words)

Galveston Burning

Galveston Burning

Disclaimer: The reviewer is the nephew of the author of the book being reviewed. No compensation of any kind was exchanged except for due payment for a copy of the book. Nothing was promised in exchange except for an impartial review of the merits of the text.

Fire is humanity's multi-edged sword. While it is useful for heat, cooking, and metalwork, it does have a dark side. Arson, injury, and death by flame or the attendant smoke caused by fire have been and remain a constant danger. James Anderson's Galveston Burning is a look at how the city of Galveston, Texas has grappled with the dangers of fire and its history of dealing with flame-based disasters.

The text is a five-part breakdown of various historical aspects of how Galveston has contended with fire. The first part is concerned with the cultural and historical background of Galveston itself. The second part concerns the improvements made to the city of Galveston, both to secure better living conditions in general and to secure the city against the dangers of fire. The third part discusses the history of Galveston's fire prevention and fighting services from their early origins to the present day. The fourth part covers various prominent fires that have occurred in the many districts of Galveston. The final part focuses on particularly significant historical buildings that have been damaged or lost to fire.

In terms of prose and grammar, this is a very straightforward text. It comes equipped with many illustrations that were needed to show landmarks and buildings described, with many of them provided by the author as part of their personal research. Despite the coverage of a somewhat niche topic, the citations are numerous and detailed. I must admit the latter sections of the text are a tad bland, reading like a summarized collection of news articles on fire-related incidents, as opposed to the straightforward discussion of the historical background of Galveston itself.

For students of history, I would not recommend this book as my first choice to anyone simply needing a broad look at the State of Texas. The author works as a tourism ambassador for Galveston, and the general purpose of the book would certainly be more useful for those touring Texas or wishing to have more knowledge of the Galveston area. Outside of this particular topical subset, this is not exactly the first book one would likely study for knowledge of Texas in general.

However, the contents do have some redeeming qualities. Generally, it merely presents historical information on the city of Galveston and its fight against the dangers of fire to its people and property. Regardless, there is a clear message arguing for the appreciation and respect for the cultural history of the city itself and the need to safeguard its cultural treasures against fire. It's certainly a worthy text for any tourism aficionado, and it conveys healthy respect for civil services that work in fire prevention.

If this sounds like an interesting text, it may be purchased on Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and hardback versions. My relation to the author notwithstanding, I would, provided the price is deemed reasonable, recommend this admittedly niche work of historical scholarship if one has a greater interest in Galveston, the fire prevention services, or Texas tourism in general.

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