Iowa Alumni Magazine | February 2008 | Reviews

F5: Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the Twentieth Century by Mark Levine

By Shelbi Thomas

On April 3, 1974, an unprecedented 148 tornadoes-including six rare and deadly F5s-ripped through the Heartland. In 13 states from Michigan to Mississippi, hundreds of people died, thousands were injured, and ordinary Americans found themselves in extraordinary situations.

In this nonfiction book, UI associate professor Mark Levine recounts the days' events through the perspectives of characters including teenage lovers terrorized on a country road, a mother at home with a newborn baby, a black preacher with a history of hardship, and a sheriff who twice stares down the storm. Weaving their stories in with references to famous figures such as Hank Aaron, Patty Hearst, and Richard Nixon, Levine recreates the turbulent '70s.