Book Review : “And Hell Followed With It” delivers gripping first-hand accounts of 66′ Tornado

Seek Cover: The tragic arrival of a tornado on June 8, 1966 changed the face of Topeka for years to come. And Hell Followed With It describes this harrowing tale in detail.

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Seek Cover: The tragic arrival of a tornado on June 8, 1966 changed the face of Topeka for years to come. “And Hell Followed With It” describes this harrowing tale in detail.

“For God’s sake, take cover!”

Those were the words spoken by Bill Kurtis, WIBW-TV anchor, on June 8, 1966 when a tornado ravaged the city of Topeka and are repeated again in the book, “And Hell Followed With It: Life and Death in a Kansas Tornado”.

Written by Bonar Menninger and published in 2011, “And Hell Followed With It” is the gripping tale of how the citizens of Topeka reacted to the arrival of a F-5 tornado that destroyed much of the capital city over the course of twenty minutes and how they rebuilt in the aftermath of such devastation.

The book contains dozens of eyewitness encounters with the tornado from residents of Topeka who survived the event which range from terrifying to incredible as each person relates their own personal experience. Menninger spent a great deal of time interviewing survivors of the tornado so that their accounts of the day could be recorded and repeated in his book.

From the storm spotters who first caught sight of the tornado as it approached from the southwest side of the city to unfortunate residents caught in the middle of the maelstrom, the book features multiple perspectives that give full coverage of the events of June 8, 1966.

With so many eyewitness accounts, Menninger is able to piece together a complete account of what happened that dark day. From the tornado’s initial touchdown point to the southwest of Burnett’s Mound at 6:50 pm to its dissipation over the eastern outskirts of Topeka at 7:31 pm, he weaves together the tales of survivors into an enthralling story.

The personal accounts of those who survived the tornado are without doubt the most gripping and interesting parts of the book. They capture the terror and fear felt by many Topeka residents that day and list the split-second decisions many people were forced to make in order to survive or be swept away by the 200 mph winds. Each story is unique and Menninger does his best to put the reader in the shoes of the people he interviewed for the book.

The fascinating legends surrounding Burnett’s Mound and the strange occurrences that happened during and after the tornado are intriguing to say the least and are described in detail in Menninger’s book.

It is obvious that Menninger did his research for this book as he spends many pages explaining every facet of a tornado, the destruction they can bring, what the best methods are for survival and the meteorological science that goes into tracking and studying such monsters. While these sections of the book are very descriptive and informative about everything dealing with a tornado, they put a halt to the action of “And Hell Followed With It”. However, these sections were necessary components to a story whose main focus is a tornado.

Menninger also went to great lengths in the book to describe the best ways to survive a tornado, even going so far as to remind the reader again and again as to which methods to ignore and which to heed. The advice to hide under a bridge or overpass for instance is heavily discouraged in the book as such a place could very easily become a deathtrap due to the acceleration of tornadic winds.

If you want to learn more about Bonar Menninger, the 1966 tornado or how “And Hell Followed With It” was written, visit the website dedicated to the book here.

Overall, the book is a great read for those who want to learn more about how to survive a tornado or hear firsthand accounts of those who survived the 1966 Topeka tornado. “And Hell Followed With It” is a terrifyingly accurate account of what can happen when Mother Nature unleashes her wrath on a city and I would encourage all Topekans to take a look at this book to learn more about the history of our city and what to do should disaster strike again.

Edited by: Katrina Johnson