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Paperback A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 Book

ISBN: 0060572000

ISBN13: 9780060572006

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906

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Book Overview

The international bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa vividly brings to life the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that leveled a city symbolic of America's relentless western expansion. Simon Winchester has also fashioned an enthralling and informative look at the tumultuous subterranean world that produces earthquakes, the planet's most sudden and destructive force.

In the early morning hours of...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Great book just for the general knowledge!

About half way through the book, so far not that much about the San Francisco earthquake. BUT, I learned a lot about how the planet was formed, how certain minerals end up together, various other fault areas, etc. Plan on buying a few to donate to my local high school and give to science teachers and library. Highly suggest!

A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester

This is an excellent book. I bought it primarily to understand the San Fransisco earthquake. It's much more than San Fransisco. It's a heavily researched and fascinating lecture on earthquakes in general since the beginning of time all over the world. Mr. Winchester writes very well and the reader is able to follow along with him. There is a lot of information, technical and otherwise. Some of the book could be uninteresting to someone who is only interested in the San Fransisco earthquake, although I really got into it. He gets to it eventually but lays the foundation in the study of the earth's various American and worldwide shifting tutonic plates under A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 (P.S.)ground and sea. The complete book gives the reader much information to look at earthquakes in San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere with a broader view about cause and effect and the why of it all. I highly recommend this book.

Read this book!!

This so-fascinating book by the author of Krakatoa was a big favorite with my Book Club. I was so impressed that I bought a copy, not only to have but also to lend to friends. You will learn about plate techtonics, particularly dramatic details about the North American Plate. You will have an inside view of the San Francisco Earthquake and of many of the people who lived through it, or who didn't. This is just to give you a small sample of the information that is so excitingly described in this wonderful book. I couldn't put it down!

Great stuff

Given that almost half of the book is devoted to an exploration of the world's geology -particularly the New Geology of plate tectonics and how it relates to the phenomenon of earthquakes - you might expect A Crack in the Edge of the World to be on the dry side; but not at all. I found it riveting, and came away better informed, infected by Winchester's obvious passion for his subject and mildly relieved not to be living in, say, Olema (where during the 1906 earthquake one highway was cut in two and the ends shifted, relative to one another, by twenty feet), or Petrolia (which has a measurable seismic event every couple of hours); or indeed any of the hundreds of communities that sit astride the San Andreas fault - including, of course, San Francisco - where the Pacific and North American plates slide inexorably past one another at an average rate of one point five inches a year. The operative word seems to be average, because this sliding movement has taken place over millions of years not in a controlled and predictable way but in a series of paralysing lurches (Winchester uses the phrase 'pitiless irregularity') - wholly unpredictable, more or less, as to size and timing and capable, as in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, of inflicting catastrophic damage and loss of life. I have read several of Winchester's books and he presents the story in his usual rhythmic and highly readable style, combining correctness with verve and rendering the complexities of the subject clearly but not simplistically. Without sensationalising, he manages to tease our expectations and crank up the tension towards the actual event by a skilful balance of back story and forward glimpses worthy - I hope he wouldn't mind the comparison - of the best disaster movies. Indeed, at one point he uses the 1936 Clark Gable film San Francisco to give colour to his description of the immediate aftermath of the main shock; and it works well because by this time his credentials have been so comprehensively established over 250 pages that you are almost prepared - I was anyway - to accept the celluloid version as a reflection of the real thing. The book ends on the ominous certainty of more to come: 'All that man does, and everywhere that man inhabits, is for the moment only...' A Crack in the Edge of the World doesn't half make you think, but above all it's a good read. I thoroughly recommend it.

Another Tale of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Simon Winchester is a storyteller and he rambles around the tale of the great earthquake of a century ago. This is not the definitive account of the 1906 quake but the account of what Mr. Winchester found to be interesting -- fortunately it is interesting for the reader too. The book is a wonderful geology book for the non-science reader as Mr. Winchester lays out why the quake occurred where it occurred (see the maps within) with vignettes with the fallout from the quake. He also makes clear that the next San Francisco earthquake is just down the road and we are no more prepared for that one either. The book cover itself is innovative and almost worth the price of the book. For the reader desiring a more traditional history of the 1906 quake, see Dan Kurzman's "Disaster: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906" (2001).

don't know much about geology

Geography was not my favorite subject in school - but it might have been if Simon Winchester had been teaching it. Winchester takes us on a trip through the aeons of time - and on his own trip across the North American plate - with humor and style. I could not put it down, promising myself that I would just finish one more chapter and winding up burning the midnight oil instead. It is amazing to note how many Americans are still living in an area that could kill without warning, yet ignore the danger. Plus, so much is relevant and a relevation in the wake of Katrina's devastation - a quicker response in 1906 than now? wrangling with insurance companies? Do we never learn? A fascinating read - highly recommended.
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