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Natural Disasters

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  1. 8.3 hrs • 5/10/2016 • Unabridged

    One of North America’s most destructive fires, and the amazing true story of how its survivors escaped to change a nation. On September 1, 1894 two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping over 2,000 people. Daniel J. Brown recounts the events surrounding the fire in the first and only book to chronicle the dramatic story that unfolded. Whereas Oregon’s famous “Biscuit” fire in 2002 burned 350,000 acres in one week, the Hinckley fire did the same damage in five hours. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. In some instances, “fire whirls,” or tornadoes of fire, danced out from the main body of the fire to knock down buildings and carry flaming debris into the sky. Temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit—the melting point of steel. As the fire surrounded the town, two railroads became the only means of escape. Two trains ran the gauntlet of fire. One train caught on fire from one end to the other. The heroic young African American porter ran up and down the length of the train, reassuring the passengers even as the flames tore at their clothes. On the other train, the engineer refused to back his locomotive out of town until the last possible minute of escape. In all, more than four hundred people died, leading to a revolution in forestry management practices and federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires today. Author Daniel Brown has woven together numerous survivors’ stories, historical sources, and interviews with forest fire experts in a gripping narrative that tells the fascinating story of one of North America’s most devastating fires and how it changed the nation.

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    Under a Flaming Sky

    8.3 hrs • 5/10/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 7.1 hrs • 5/3/2016 • Unabridged

    In this gripping memoir, the sole survivor of the disastrous 2013 fire in Yarnell, Arizona recalls the natural disaster that took the lives of 19 “hotshots—firefighters trained specifically to battle wildfires. Brendan McDonough was on the verge of becoming an inveterate heroin addict when he decided to enlist in Granite Mountain, an elite hotshot crew of wildland firefighters based in Arizona. Thanks to his crew’s firm but loving encouragement, McDonough made the cut and battled many extreme blazes alongside his newfound “brothers,” receiving a life with purpose as part of a team. Then, on June 30, 2013, during a fire at which McDonough was serving as lookout, a freak inferno trapped and killed all 19 members of his crew. My Lost Brothers traces McDonough’s minute-by-minute account of witnessing his fellow hotshots’ brave, selfless battle—as well as its aftermath.

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    My Lost Brothers

    7.1 hrs • 5/3/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 6.4 hrs • 5/3/2016 • Unabridged

    In the tradition of Deep Down Dark and A Perfect Storm, comes the harrowing, and tragic true-life story of one of America’s deadliest wildfires and the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June of 2013, setting off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history, the twenty men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots sprang into action. An elite crew trained to combat the most challenging wildfires, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were a ragtag family, crisscrossing the American West and wherever else the fires took them. The Hotshots were loyal to one another and dedicated to the tough job they had. There’s Eric Marsh, their devoted and demanding superintendent who turned his own personal demons into lessons he used to mold, train, and guide his crew; Jesse Steed, their captain, a former Marine, a beast on the fire line and a family man who wasn’t afraid to say “I love you” to the firemen he led; Andrew Ashcraft, a team leader still in his twenties who struggled to balance his love for his beautiful wife and four children and his passion for fighting wildfires. We see this band of brothers at work, at play, and at home, until a fire that burned in their own backyards leads to a national tragedy. Impeccably researched, drawing upon more than a hundred hours of interviews with the firefighters’ families, colleagues, state and federal officials, and fire historians and researchers, New York Times Phoenix Bureau Chief Fernanda Santos has written a riveting, pulse-pounding narrative of an unthinkable disaster, a remarkable group of men and the raging wildfires that threaten our country’s treasured wild lands.

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    The Fire Line

    6.4 hrs • 5/3/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 11.5 hrs • 9/8/2015 • Unabridged

    On the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina barreled into New Orleans, devastating many of the city’s neighborhoods, including Pontchartrain Park, the home of Wendell Pierce’s family and the first African American middle-class subdivision in New Orleans. The hurricane breached many of the city’s levees, and the resulting flooding submerged Pontchartrain Park under as much as twenty feet of water. Katrina left New Orleans later that day, but for the next three days the water kept relentlessly gushing into the city, plunging eighty percent of New Orleans under water. Nearly 1,500 people were killed. Half the houses in the city had four feet of water in them—or more. There was no electricity or clean water in the city; looting and the breakdown of civil order soon followed. Tens of thousands of New Orleanians were stranded in the city, with no way out; many more evacuees were displaced, with no way back in. Pierce and his family were some of the lucky ones: They survived and were able to ride out the storm at a relative’s house seventy miles away. When they were finally allowed to return, they found their family home in tatters, their neighborhood decimated. Heartbroken but resilient, Pierce vowed to help rebuild, and not just his family’s home, but all of Pontchartrain Park. In this powerful and redemptive narrative, Pierce brings together the stories of his family, his city, and his history, why they are all worth saving, and the critical importance art played in reuniting and revitalizing this unique American city.

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    The Wind in the Reeds

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    11.5 hrs • 9/8/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 5.4 hrs • 8/25/2015 • Unabridged

    An insider takes listeners into the thrilling and dangerous world of smokejumpers, the elite wilderness firefighters who parachute into the most remote and rugged areas of the United States, risking their lives to fight nature’s deadliest blazes. An elite crew of firefighters employed by the Department of the Interior, smokejumpers are specially trained to fight monstrous fires in the deepest wilderness at a moment’s notice—in inaccessible terrain where conventional firefighting is impossible. Highly trained, they parachute from helicopters into the heart of the combustion, often alone or with the aid of just a single partner. But it’s not just a skill; being a smokejumper is an art. Forest fires often behave in unpredictable ways: spreading almost instantaneously, shooting downhill behind a stiff tailwind, or even flowing like a liquid. To stay alive, smokejumpers must combine knowledge of the terrain, meteorological and ground conditions, and their own judgment and instincts to survive. In this exciting, eye-opening memoir, Jason A. Ramos reveals what it takes to do this remarkable job, recounting his career from his humble beginnings as a seventeen-year-old city kid working for the Riverside County Fire Department to becoming one of the top smokejumpers in the world, a position he’s held for twenty-five years. Ramos weaves a compelling history of wilderness firefighting, takes us through the brutal training it requires, and explains the psychological strength needed to go to work each day knowing it could be your last. Here are some of his most harrowing missions—when the ground is so hot that truck axles melt and a split-second decision can mean the difference between living and dying. Smokejumper takes us deep into burning forests—and into the heart of a dedicated fire fighter as never before.

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    Smokejumper

    Foreword by John Maclean
    Read by Ned Vaughn
    5.4 hrs • 8/25/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 8.1 hrs • 8/11/2015 • Unabridged

    In this gripping narrative history, the beloved NBC weather personality vividly brings to life the Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900, the deadliest natural disaster in American history. On the afternoon of September 8, 1900, two-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and fifteen-foot waves slammed into Galveston, the prosperous and growing port city on Texas’ Gulf Coast. By dawn the next day, when the storm had passed, the city that existed just hours before was gone. Shattered, grief-stricken survivors emerged to witness a level of destruction never before seen: eight thousand corpses littered the streets and were buried under the massive wreckage. Rushing water had lifted buildings from their foundations, smashing them into pieces, while intensive winds had upended girders and trestles, driving them through house walls and into sidewalks. In less than twenty-four hours, one storm destroyed a major American metropolis—and awakened a nation to the terrifying power of nature. The Story of the Century brings this legendary disaster and its aftermath into brilliant focus. No other natural disaster has ever matched the havoc caused by the awesome mix of winds, rains, and flooding that devastated this bustling metropolis and shocked a young, optimistic nation on the cusp of modernity. Exploring the impact of the disaster on a rising nation’s confidence—the pain and trauma of the loss and the determination of the response—Al Roker illuminates both the energy and the limitations of the American Century, and of nature itself.

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    The Storm of the Century

    Read by Byron Wagner
    8.1 hrs • 8/11/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
    10.6 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    The Mercy of the Sky is the harrowing inside account of Oklahoma’s deadliest tornado, penned by a local writer who became a national correspondent. Oklahomans have long been known for their fatalism and grit, but even old-timers are troubled by the twisters that are devastating the state with increasing frequency. On May 20, 2013, the worst tornado on record landed a direct hit on the small town of Moore, destroying two schools while the children cowered inside. Oklahoma native Holly Bailey grew up dreaming of becoming a storm chaser. Instead she became Newsweek’s youngest-ever White House correspondent, traveling to war zones with Presidents Bush and Obama. When Moore was hit, Bailey went back both as a journalist and a hometown girl and spoke with the teachers who put their lives at risk to save their students, the weathermen more revered than rock stars and more tormented than they let on, and many shell-shocked residents. In The Mercy of the Sky, Bailey does for the Oklahoma flatlands what Sebastian Junger did for Gloucester, Massachusetts, in The Perfect Storm, telling a dramatic, page-turning story about a town that must survive the elements—or die.

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    The Mercy of the Sky by Holly Bailey

    The Mercy of the Sky

    10.6 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
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  8. 9.6 hrs • 4/10/2015 • Unabridged

    Filled with imagery as powerful as a hurricane, Isaac’s Storm immediately swept onto bestseller lists across the country. In 1900 Isaac Monroe Cline was in charge of the Galveston station of the United States Weather Bureau. He was a knowledgeable, seasoned weatherman who considered himself a scientist. When he heard the deep thudding of waves on Galveston’s beach in the early morning of September 8th, however, Cline refused to be alarmed. The city had been hit by bad weather before. But by the time this storm had moved across Galveston, at least 6,000—probably closer to 10,000—people were dead, and Cline would never look at hurricanes the same way again. Based on a wealth of primary sources, Erik Larson’s unforgettable work will haunt you long after the final sentence. Narrator Richard M. Davidson infuses each chapter with added intensity.

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    Isaac’s Storm

    9.6 hrs • 4/10/15 • Unabridged
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  9. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    7.6 hrs • 4/7/2015 • Unabridged

    Rescue of the Bounty is the harrowing story of the sinking and rescue of Bounty—the tall ship used in the classic 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty—which was caught in the path of Hurricane Sandy with sixteen aboard. On Thursday, October 25, 2012, Captain Robin Walbridge made the fateful decision to sail Bounty from New London, Connecticut, to St. Petersburg, Florida. Walbridge was well aware that a hurricane was forecast to travel north from the Caribbean toward the eastern seaboard. Yet the captain was determined to sail. As he explained to his crew of fifteen: A ship is always safer at sea than in port. He intended to sail “around the hurricane” and told the crew that anyone who did not want to come on the voyage could leave the ship—there would be no hard feelings. As fate would have it, no one took the captain up on his offer. Four days into the voyage, Superstorm Sandy made an almost direct hit on Bounty. The vessel’s failing pumps could not keep up with the incoming water. The ship began to lose power as it was beaten and rocked by hurricane winds that spanned eight hundred miles. A few hours later, in the dark of night, the ship suddenly overturned ninety miles off the North Carolina coast in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” sending the crew tumbling into an ocean filled with towering thirty-foot waves. The Coast Guard then launched one of the most complex and massive rescues in its history, flying two Jayhawk helicopter crews into the hurricane and lowering rescue swimmers into the raging seas again and again, despite the danger to their own lives. In the uproar heard across American media in the days following, a single question persisted: Why did the captain decide to sail? Through hundreds of hours of interviews with the crew members, their families, and the Coast Guard, the masterful duo of Michael J. Tougias and Douglas A. Campbell creates an in-depth portrait of the enigmatic Captain Walbridge, his motivations, and what truly occurred aboard Bounty during those terrifying days at sea. Dripping with suspense and vivid high-stakes drama, Rescue of the Bounty is an unforgettable tale about the brutality of nature and the human will to survive.

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    Rescue of the Bounty by Michael J. Tougias, Douglas A. Campbell

    Rescue of the Bounty

    7.6 hrs • 4/7/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 9.4 hrs • 4/24/2014 • Unabridged

    Written by journalist Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestseller The Perfect Storm combines an intimate portrait of a small fishing crew with fascinating scientific data about boats and weather systems. In late October, North Atlantic seas are unpredictable. Still, one last good swordfish catch is a chance to start the winter with a fat wallet. As Captain Billy Tyne steers his seventy-two-foot longboat Andrea Gail toward the grand banks, growing weather fronts are moving toward the same waters. The Andrea Gail is sailing into the storm of the century, one with 100-mile-per-hour winds and waves cresting over 110 feet—a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it “the perfect storm.” As each man on the boat faces this ultimate foe, Junger gives the account an immediacy that fills The Perfect Storm with suspense and authenticity. In this now-classic book, he explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and the candid accounts of the people whose lives the storm touched. An interview with the author concludes this audiobook.

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    The Perfect Storm

    9.4 hrs • 4/24/14 • Unabridged
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  11. 8.6 hrs • 2/15/2014 • Unabridged

    A heart-stopping true-life tale of maritime disaster, survival, and daring rescue from a master storyteller Seventy-foot waves batter a torn life raft 250 miles out to sea in one of the world’s most dangerous places, the Gulf Stream. Hanging on to the raft are three men, a Canadian, a Brit, and their captain, Jean Pierre de Lutz, a dual citizen of America and France. Their capsized forty-seven-foot sailboat has filled with water and disappeared below the tempestuous sea. The giant waves repeatedly toss the men out of their tiny vessel, and JP, with nine broken ribs, is hypothermic and on the verge of death. The captain, however, is a remarkably tough character, having survived a brutal boyhood, and now he must rely on the same inner strength to outlast the storm. Trying to reach these survivors before it’s too late are four brave coast guardsmen battling hurricane-force winds in their Jayhawk helicopter. They know the waves will be extreme, but when they arrive they are astounded to find that the monstrous seas have waves reaching eighty feet. Lowering the wind-whipped helicopter to drop a rescue swimmer into such chaos will be extremely dangerous. The pilots wonder if they have a realistic chance of saving the sailors clinging to the broken life raft and if they will be able to even retrieve their own rescue swimmer from the towering seas. Once they commit to the rescue, they find themselves in almost as much trouble as the survivors, facing one life-and-death moment after the next. Also caught in the storm are three other boats, each one in a Mayday situation. Of the ten people on these boats, only six will ever see land again. Spellbinding, harrowing, and meticulously researched, A Storm Too Soon is a vivid account of the powerful collision between the forces of nature and the human will to survive. Author Michael J. Tougias, known for his fast-paced writing style and character-driven stories, tells this true saga in the present tense to give the reader a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat immediacy. A Storm Too Soon is Tougias at his masterful best and a heart-pounding narrative of survival, the power of the human spirit, and one of the most incredible rescues ever attempted.

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    A Storm Too Soon by Michael J. Tougias

    A Storm Too Soon

    8.6 hrs • 2/15/14 • Unabridged
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  12. 6.2 hrs • 11/15/2013 • Unabridged

    A passionate student of Japanese poetry, theater, and art for much of her life, Gretel Ehrlich felt compelled to return to the earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast to bear witness, listen to survivors, and experience their terror and exhilaration in villages and towns where all shelter and hope seemed lost. In an eloquent narrative that blends strong reportage, poetic observation, and deeply felt reflection, she takes us into the upside-down world of northeastern Japan, where nothing is certain and where the boundaries between living and dying have been erased by water. The stories of rice farmers, monks, and wanderers; of fishermen who drove their boats up the steep wall of the wave; and of an eighty-four-year-old geisha who survived the tsunami to hand down a song that only she still remembered are both harrowing and inspirational. Facing death, facing life, and coming to terms with impermanence are equally compelling in a landscape of surreal desolation, as the ghostly specter of Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear power complex, spews radiation into the ocean and air. Facing the Wave is a testament to the buoyancy, spirit, humor, and strong-mindedness of those who must find their way in a suddenly shattered world.

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    Facing the Wave

    6.2 hrs • 11/15/13 • Unabridged
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  13. 10.3 hrs • 10/29/2013 • Unabridged

    From the author of The Forgotten 500 comes the heartbreaking, thrilling, and inspirational story of the impact of Superstorm Sandy upon the Bounty and its crew.

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    The Gathering Wind

    10.3 hrs • 10/29/13 • Unabridged
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  14. 10.3 hrs • 5/14/2013 • Unabridged

    In its 4.5 billion–year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times: shattered by asteroid impacts, entombed in ice, smothered by methane, and torn apart by unfathomably powerful mega-volcanoes. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How? As a species, Homo sapiens is at a crossroads. Study of our planet’s turbulent past suggests that we are overdue for a catastrophic disaster, whether caused by nature or by human interference. It’s a frightening prospect, as each of the Earth’s past major disasters—from meteor strikes to bombardment by cosmic radiation—resulted in a mass extinction, where more than 75 percent of the planet’s species died out. But in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Life on Earth has come close to annihilation—humans have, more than once, narrowly avoided extinction just during the last million years—but every time a few creatures survived, evolving to adapt to the harshest of conditions. This brilliantly speculative work of popular science focuses on humanity’s long history of dodging the bullet, as well as on new threats that we may face in years to come. Most important, it explores how scientific breakthroughs today will help us avoid disasters tomorrow. From simulating tsunamis to studying central Turkey’s ancient underground cities; from cultivating cyanobacteria for “living cities” to designing space elevators to make space colonies cost-effective; from using math to stop pandemics to studying the remarkable survival strategies of gray whales, scientists and researchers the world over are discovering the keys to long-term resilience and learning how humans can choose life over death. Newitz’s remarkable and fascinating journey through the science of mass extinctions is a powerful argument about human ingenuity and our ability to change. In a world populated by “doomsday preppers” and media commentators obsessively forecasting our demise, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a compelling voice of hope. It leads us away from apocalyptic thinking into a future where we live to build a better world—on this planet and perhaps on others. Readers of this book will be equipped scientifically, intellectually, and emotionally to face whatever the future holds.

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    Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

    10.3 hrs • 5/14/13 • Unabridged
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  15. 5.4 hrs • 3/5/2013 • Unabridged

    On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami that she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. An engrossing, unsentimental, and beautifully poised account, she shares her struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny; and then, over the ensuing years, she emerges reluctantly, slowly allowing her memory to take her back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning—from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo. All the while, she learns the difficult balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and the need to keep her family, somehow, still alive within her.

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    Wave

    5.4 hrs • 3/5/13 • Unabridged
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  16. 6.2 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Abridged

    In the span of five violent hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed major Gulf Coast cities and flattened 150 miles of coastline. Yet those wind-torn hours represented only the first stage of the relentless triple tragedy that Katrina brought to the entire Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Mississippi to Alabama. First was the hurricane, one of the three strongest ever to make landfall in the United States -- 150 mile per hour winds, with gusts measuring more than 180 miles per hour ripping buildings to pieces. Second, the storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half million homes, creating the largest refugee crisis since the Civil War. Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water, and whole towns in southeastern Louisiana ceased to exist. And third, the human tragedy of government mismanagement, which proved as cruel as the natural disaster itself. In The Great Deluge, bestselling author Douglas Brinkley, a New Orleans resident and professor of history at Tulane University, rips the story of Katrina apart and relates what the category 3 hurricane was like from every point of view, while recognizing the true heroes. Throughout the book, Brinkley lets the Katrina survivors tell their own stories, masterfully allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina. The Great Deluge investigates the failure of government at each level and breaks important new stories. Packed with interviews and original research, it traces the character flaws, inexperience, and ulterior motives that allowed the Katrina disaster to turn the Gulf Coast into a scene from a war movie or a third-world documentary.

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    The Great Deluge

    6.2 hrs • 7/15/12 • Abridged
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