281 Front St
Key West, FL 33040
Author and National Geographic News Contributing Editor Willie Drye unraveled the fascinating story of the most powerful hurricane in U.S. history in his highly praised book, Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. The work of narrative non-fiction, which reads like a novel, has been hailed as the definitive account of this event. Drye’s riveting yet meticulously accurate portrayal of the horrific power of this long-ago monster storm also was praised by some of the nation’s most respected meteorologists.
The savage hurricane came ashore in the Upper Florida Keys in the depths of the Great Depression, killing more than 250 World War I veterans working on a New Deal road construction project. The story has layer upon layer of complexities and plot twists, including intricate political maneuvering, good intentions gone awry, and a disaster in a remote, isolated corner of the U.S. that indirectly affected thousands of people across the nation.
Drye will explain how he compiled the story of this American tragedy, the people he met and interviewed along the way, and the many remarkable sidebars he uncovered that made Storm of the Century an unforgettable read. Diagrams and period photos will help the audience understand the impact of this incalculably intense hurricane.
About the Author:
Willie Drye has been a reporter and editor for more than 35 years. After serving as a U.S. Army medic, he earned a degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked for newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. He has been writing about hurricanes and other topics for National Geographic News since 2003. His package of stories for Key West Magazine about how Key West and the Florida Keys would be affected by a major hurricane earned a prestigious Charlie Award for Public Service from the Florida Magazine Association in 2007. Drye lives in North Carolina, dividing his time between Plymouth and Wilmington.
Photo Credit: Doward Jones
The project is sponsored in part by the Helmerich Trust and the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of the Arts and Culture and the State of Florida. Additional support provided by the Marriott Key West Beachside Resort.