John's Reviews > Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded

Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
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's review
Oct 25, 11

Only superlatives can describe the Volcanic Eruption of the island of Krakatoa that took place on August 27, 1883. In the shallow waters of the Sunda Strait lying between Sumatra and Java, Indonesia or as we learned in school The Dutch East Indies, the 6 cubic miles of uninhabited rock were blasted out of existence. Over 36,000 people perished in the tsunami that followed with thousands more being injured. A cloud of gas and pumice was hurled 24 miles into the air with the debris blocking the rays of the sun sufficiently to lower the planets temperature. The gigantic explosions were heard 3,000 miles away, the air waves were detected in Greenwich, England and the sea waves in the English Channel.

In 1927 Anak Krakatoa, translated as "the child of Krakatoa" emerged from the sea to take the place of its missing parent and through small eruptions has risen to a height now close to a thousand feet. Surely, sometime in the future another subduction zone will form and an immense cataclysm will again shake the earth. As Will Durant has remarked "Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice."

The chapter on the wave of anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims pressing their own imperial religion did not seem to fit in and would have been better suited for a different book.

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