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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 » User review

Fault-line roulette stops on San Francisco, 1906

  • Aug 3, 2008
  • by
Winchester is a very good popularizer of science, and he writes a meandering account of the San Francisco earthquake that covers the globe from Norway to Alaska in telling the story.

His account of the underground geology of the western states is fascinating, lending plausibility to the thought that, if not about to slide into the Pacific Ocean, California is at least sitting on top of a fast-moving (as tectonic plates go) fault-line merry-go-round about to spin it into some form of disaster.

As he did in his account of Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, Winchester throws in a dose of anti-Christianity (blaming the San Francisco earthquake for the despicable--to him--rise of Pentecostalism), then more bizarrely (but perhaps understandable given his bias) attempts to lend some credence to the lunatic-fringe theory of Gaia. It adds nothing to his account, and were he not blinded by his anti-Christian hatred, would clearly strike him as unnecessary and damaging to his scientific mindset.

That aside, Winchester tells a cracking good story, and makes the difficult ideas understandable and interesting.

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review by . December 11, 2005
With all the recent attention to natural disasters, the following book caught my eye... A Crack In The Edge Of The World: America And The Great California Earthquake Of 1906 by Simon Winchester. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting or looking for, but this certainly wasn't it...    In this book, Winchester tells the story of the 1906 earthquake and how it affected the city and the people who lived there. For that, it's not bad. My problem is that we don't really get to the …
review by . November 11, 2005
Simon Winchester has a gift for explaining the complex. This book is actually aboout geology, the development of geology as a science, plate tectonics, the San Andreas fault and, finally, a bit about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.     Readers expecting a collection of dramatic tales from survivors of the 1906 earthquake will be disappointed. This is more the story of why san Francisco experienced the quake and why it will happen again. To tell the story, Winchester provides …
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Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Geologically speaking, 1906 was a violent year: powerful, destructive earthquakes shook the ground from Taiwan to South America, while in Italy, Mount Vesuvius erupted. And in San Francisco, a large earthquake occurred just after five in the morning on April 18--and that was just the beginning. The quake caused a conflagration that raged for the next three days, destroying much of the American West's greatest city. The fire, along with water damage and other indirect acts, proved more destructive than the earthquake itself, but insurance companies tried hard to dispute this fact since few people carried earthquake insurance. It was also the world's first major natural disaster to have been extensively photographed and covered by the media, and as a result, it left "an indelible imprint on the mind of the entire nation."

Though the epicenter of this marvelously constructed book is San Francisco, Winchester covers much more than just the disaster. He discusses how this particular quake led to greater scientific study of quakes in an attempt to understand the movements of the earth. Trained at Oxford University as a geologist, Winchester is well qualified to discuss the subject, and he clearly explains plate tectonics theory (first introduced in 1968) and the creation of the San Andreas Fault, along with the geologic exploration of the American West in the late 19th century and the evolution of technology used to measure and predict earthquakes. He also covers the social and ...

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ISBN-10: 0060571993
ISBN-13: 978-0060571993
Author: Simon Winchester
Genre: Science
Publisher: HarperCollins
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