A Crack in the Edge of the World
Let me tell you what there is to love about this book.
Firstly, Winchester starts off by talking about the Gaia Theory – essentially that everything is related to everything else. He does this because talk of earthquakes has only begun to make sen...more
The 1906 earthquake that most notably affected San Francisco is a fascinating topic, and I like books with a bit of Science in them, but oh my god! could this author be any more of a pain in the ass? I just have to prove it with a couple of examples, but truly sir: Mr. Winchester, I implore you, where are your trustworthy editors? Nowhere, mon frere. Example One in my hypothetical thesis entitled "why Simon Winchester is a pain in the ass": in one paragraph...more
Much to the delight of info gluttons, Winchester as always ranges widely from the nominal focus of the book. Any reader looking for an in-depth history of the whys and wherefores of the earthquake and fire will be more than satisfied, as well anyone wondering about the broader sur...more
"There is a tendency common to most of us to take the more modest of our landscapes for granted. We see a wide and fertile plai...more
So you get on a shuttle bus and head for Newark, and board your new flight, and settl...more
I loved his earlier book, The Professor and the Madman
Generally speaking, I enjoy disaster history (Isaac's Storm, The Children's Blizzard, etc).
But the science bits, explaining plate tetonics and exactly what kind of earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906 too far too long. I ended up skimming quite a bit of it, something I rarely do. His trip across the US, checking out fault lines, also got skimmed.
The stuff about the actual disaster was good--there jus...more
Winchester is a very knowledgeable fellow. The book is framed around his own travels to places like Iceland and then across North America, from Charleston, to New Madrid, and on westward to San Francisco. His goal is to explore tectonic theory and how the San Andreas Fault fits into the larger sche...more
I've been looking for a good book on the disaster for a little while now, and when I came across A Crack in the Edge of the World I was thrilled. I'd read Winchester's Atlantic a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. However, the jacket copy is a bit misleading here. True, the book is about the 1906 earthquake, but I was...more
This book is almost as good as Krakatoa. I learned a lot and couldn't believe how my public school education failed to educate me on history. I did get a little bored on the 9th CD, but the 10th picked up when he recounted his trip to Alaska and then back to Yellowstone. Certainly a must-read... or be...more
Now, I must confess, I did not actually READ this book. Instead, I had it read to me, by the author. I bought the set of CDs on sale at a geological convention I attended in Pittsburgh last year, wondering, "When will I get around to listening to these hours upon hours of words?" Well, despite the fact...more
The book examines the 1906 San Francisco earthquake from all facets. It provides an interesting survey of geology from the formation of the earth, the scientif...more
A fair amount of this book covers not the actual aftermath of the earthquake which most people remember as the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 but rather events leading up to it and the nature of American and world geology.
I'm not going to write a spoiler here but I w...more
Have ever had that thing where you hear about a disease, say like myocardial infarction, and then you look at a stick of butter and all of sudden you are biting your lip, sweating, and debating on whether or not you should call 911? It’s call hypochondria. After reading this book, I got that for earthquakes. I look at the ground. I look at the fault behind my house. I look at crack in...more
I learned more than I ever wanted to about New Geology, seismology, plate tectonics, fault lines, slip-strike lines, seismographs - but what I really wanted was the personal histories,...more
Winchester's latest work is a lesson in unfulfilled expectations. Though he presents the book as a history of the San Francisco quake, over the first 200 pages Winchester offers an abbreviated version of John McPhee's Annals of the Former World. Where McPhee made clear his intentions to write a comprehensive geological history of the North American continent, critics feel duped by Winchester, or by the publisher's marketing department. Many reviewers are dismayed to see him reusing information f...more
Winchester takes on a condensed lesson on plate tectonics, how our planet is a "living thing" and how all of that came together to create this one earthquake. I was fascinated. I want to read more about this topic now for sure.
Then he takes his on a more in-depth look at the San Andreas Fault - it's location, what it's doing, it's role in all of it. Along with San Francisco at this tim...more
I thought (silly me) that this would be a straightforward narrative account of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 — which I apparently cannot type without using capital letters, perhaps because my home sits less than two miles from the San Andreas Fault and such events as 1906 frequently cross my mind. Anyway, that's what I assumed this was. But Simon Winchester is a trained geologist, and he gives us something much larger:...more