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"[A] tremendous new book." —The Boston Globe
"Carney and Miklian write vividly in the fashion of a cinematic disaster flick." —The Washington Post
The deadliest storm in modern history ripped Pakistan in two and led the world to the brink of nuclear war when American and Soviet forces converged in the Bay of Bengal
In November 1970, a storm set a collision course with the most densely populated coastline on Earth. Over the course of just a few hours, the Great Bhola Cyclone would kill 500,000 people and begin a chain reaction of turmoil, genocide, and war. The Vortex is the dramatic story of how that storm sparked a country to revolution.
Bhola made landfall during a fragile time, when Pakistan was on the brink of a historic election. The fallout ignited a conflagration of political intrigue, corruption, violence, idealism, and bravery that played out in the lives of tens of millions of Bangladeshis. Authors Scott Carney and Jason Miklian take us deep into the story of the cyclone and its aftermath, told through the eyes of the men and women who lived through it, including the infamous president of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, and his close friend Richard Nixon; American expats Jon and Candy Rhode; soccer star-turned-soldier Hafiz Uddin Ahmad; and a young Bengali revolutionary, Mohammed Hai.
Thrillingly paced and written with incredible detail, The Vortex is not just a story about the painful birth of a new nation but also a universal tale of resilience and liberation in the face of climate emergency that affects every single person on the planet.
In this disturbing study of the havoc wreaked by the 1970 Great Bhola Cyclone in East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh), journalist Carney (The Wedge) and political scientist Miklian (coauthor, India's Human Security) look to the past to forecast the future of climate change. Forming in the Bay of Bengal in November 1970, the storm killed an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 people and exacerbated tensions between Bengali-speaking East Pakistan and West Pakistan, home to the capital city of Islamabad. President Yahya Khan had "promised that the days of Bengali discrimination were over," but his botched response to the cyclone helped fuel the rise of the Awami League, a Bengali opposition party. In Pakistan's first democratic election, held in December 1970, the Awami League took control of the national assembly in Islamabad and, with it, the prime minister's office, but Khan refused to transfer power, triggering civil unrest, genocide, and, ultimately, the breakup of Pakistan. Carney and Miklian make a persuasive case that as climate change produces more frequent and deadlier storms, the world faces "an increasing likelihood of selective genocide and even global international war." Shot through with colorful character sketches and lucid explanations of South Asian politics, this is an urgent warning about the links between global warming and geopolitical turmoil.