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This Is Chance!: The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It Together

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  30 reviews
In the spring of 1964, Anchorage, Alaska, was a modern-day frontier town yearning to be a metropolis--the largest, proudest city in a state that was still brand-new. But just before sundown on Good Friday, the community was jolted by the most powerful earthquake in American history, a catastrophic 9.2 on the Richter Scale. For four and a half minutes, the ground lurched ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Random House
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Diane S ☔
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
Thoughts soon.
Wandee J.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished This Is Chance! I stayed up, reading when I should have been sleeping because it was better than sleep. Its a beautiful book and I think you should all read it - not because of who wrote it but because its about grief and connection - all we leave, all we lose and, in the end, gives a sense of comfort that eludes us these days. Im a pretty tough reader to engage. Really tough. The author of this book is my husband and, I rarely admit this, but I didnt even finish his first ...more
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I couldn't put this book down! The narrative was so vivid and completely immersive, it took you to the time & place. I am a recent resident of Anchorage and I loved this glimpse into its past. I will say it was chilling to think of the scale of the damage, considering how commonly we still have quakes up here.
Megan Bell
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This Is Chance! is a timely reminder that when the die is cast and misfortune is in the cards, chances are that well find the everyday relationships around usthe ones forged between neighbors, in scouting troops, or through community theaterare strong enough to save us. On Good Friday 1964, the largest city in the newly official state of Alaska suffered the most powerful earthquake in American history. The citizens of Anchorage underwent four and a half minutes of shocking and surreal ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Information is a form of comfort."

For anyone who has lived through a major disaster of any sort, this is a great read. Even if you haven't been through an earthquake specifically, there's enough parallels for what comes immediately after that you'll find a lot to identify with. This book opens with an innocuous town event held a month before the earthquake hit. You meet a lot of the main players early on, and are provided with a thoughtful introduction for each by the author. While ultimately
This was an interesting and educational retelling of the 1964 Alaskan earthquake that registered as a 9.2 on the Richter scale and which struck on Good Friday. The author/narrator of this book collected and stitched together different stories from a variety of sources including records and notes from Genie Chance, a female reporter for KENI radio station in Anchorage, Alaska. Mrs. Chance along with the citizens of Anchorage worked tirelessly to keep people safe, secure and especially calm. At a ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Since I knew nothing about the 1964 Anchorage earthquake, I was looking forward to reading this book by Jon Mooallem. I also liked his angle of focusing the story on radio reporter Genie Chance. Well, the story starts off being interesting enough, but soon tedious details about everyone and everything made me start skimming many pages. The author definitely jumps around a lot, too.

Next, after describing all that Ms. Chance did after the earthquake hit, the author jumps to the year after the
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exciting account of the 1964 Alaska earthquake, told from the vantage point of the radio reporter on the scene, Genie Chance. She quickly went from reporting the few, scattered facts as they became available, to becoming the voice of the city, relaying messages to a city without telephone service or electricity, and letting the outside world know that Anchorage was still on the map.
James Beggarly
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway
This was a Goodreads Giveaway. A wonderful book about the largest earthquake in the US that took place in Alaska in 1964. The whole city of anchorage turns out to help their neighbors and one voice, a mother of three, Genie Chance, stays on the radio for three days, calming nerves and letting everyone know that life is going to go on. Surprisingly beautiful and inspiring.
Billy Skibinski
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very informative and well written. I felt as though I was there in this important piece of history.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, netgalley
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

This was such an interesting read, and a different book than I thought it was going to be when I started. This seemed like it would be a straightforward record of the earthquake that shook Anchorage, AK in the 60s, and the voice on the radio, Genie Chance, that helped rally the town and help with disaster. And, for a good chunk of the book, that's the story, with a few odd divergences here and there - there's a profile of the person
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jon Mooallem has written a very informative, interesting story about the huge earthquake of 1964 in Anchorage. Being somewhat familiar with Anchorage I found this book to be easy to read and filled with facts both large and small.

I do think the story could have been shortened and a good editor would have helped quite a bit, but the piece of history that is this book was good enough to keep me reading.

I would definitely recommend this to people who enjoy reading history, those familiar with
Cat Roule
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"This is Chance" is a book to remind us of how much neighbors, strangers, and others can and will pull together in times of crisis. Although I do not remember that particular major earthquake, it was informative and interesting to learn about it. Kudos to Jon Mooallem, who wrote this book.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for the advanced copy.
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-winner
The first thing i noticed upon picking this book up is how timely it is. Although the disaster it describes is different than the pandemic our world is currently enduring, there are parallels about how people respond to crisis. The book opens with a letter essentially reminding us of the immortal words of Fred Rogers, to always look for the helpers when things are going wrong.

There were things i didnt like about this book, but it was written so well, they can be overlooked. I felt like the flow
Brett Van Gaasbeek
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Random House for giving me a copy of this book in a giveaway. It was well worth the read and an interesting way of presenting the earthquake and its aftermath by the author. At first, I was thrown by his style of storytelling, as he tends to jump from subject to subject and person to person with no real transition. Then, when he focuses on the community theater production of "Our Town" it becomes clear what he is doing. He is drawing a parallel between Grover's Corners and ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

This is a surprisingly relevant book! Tying information to comfort and seeing how the community weathered a terrible experience was eye opening.

This book does a great job of sharing how a community in Alaska navigated a crisis. I'd be interested to see how it compares to the recent earthquake in Anchorage. But this book really humanizes the people involved in the earthquake, especially Genie.

I like
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Our force for counteracting chaos is connection."

If ever a line resonated during the current COVID-19 outbreak...
Susan Walker
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot from this book. With the world dealing with the Coronavirus this book about dealing with a disaster (earthquake) is very timely.
Greg Giles
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Starts out very strong, but some odd structural choices make for a frustrating read in the end.

Although the title and the cover blurbs focus on the person Genie Chance, she's really only the focus of about 1/3 of the book.
Jill Elizabeth
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this story - when it told its story and didn't divert into ancillary information about the history of Alaska - but do have some issues with the way the book was presented as a whole. The story starts out fascinating, describing the immediate moments before the earthquake and then quickly throwing the reader into the turmoil of the event itself. The majority of the book that focuses on the earthquake and its aftermath - the proclaimed point according to the cover and blurb - was very ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This non-fiction book detailing the events of the horrific earthquake that hit Alaska in 1964 was extremely fascinating. Also, the people highlighted in this book were all endearing and amazing individuals. However, the authors writing style did not work for me and the arrangement of the book was odd. As a note, this book was written in the style of the play Our Town, so if you are a big Our Town fan this may appeal to you. ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I received this book as part of GoodReads' First Reads program.

This is Chance is mostly the story of the Anchorage, Alaska earthquake of Good Friday, 1964. It is the largest earthquake ever recorded in the US and the second largest ever recorded in the world. The story centers around Genie Chance, a young mother of three who worked part time at a local radio station. As she was driving her son to the bookstore, a massive earthquake hit, causing incredible damage to the city. After
Diane Hernandez
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
On Good Friday 1964, the earth beneath Anchorage began to rock and roll with the biggest earthquake yet in North America at 9.2. A wife, mother, and news reporter was about to have her seminal moment. Her sign-on to local radio channel, KENI, was, This is Chance. Her name was Genie Chance.

Ive lived through many earthquakes living my entire life in and near Los Angeles. The chapter describing the earthquake was spot on. It matches the shock and awe a person feels well before the fear sets in. I
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was just what I needed right now - a story of a community hit by a crisis, able to pull together to solve problems. This book is about the 1964 Alaskan earthquake, told through the stories of a female radio reporter, city problem solvers - some official and some who just happened to be in the right place at the right time - and a group of researchers investigating whether what we think people do in a crisis really is what they do in a crisis. Woven into the story is the Thornton Wilder ...more
Mary Bellamy
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The writing is okay if sometimes annoying -- don't tell me a plane goes from having 20 seats sold to sold out without telling me how many seats are on it. The structure, for no apparent reason, isn't linear and the author refers to himself in the third person. On the other hand, Mooallem has hold of an interesting story, the Good Friday earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska in 1964 and it's aftermath. Residents and visitors generally do the town proud and we can all feel good about the human spirit.
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So well done!!!
Andrew Sampson
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a very good book about a disaster, the power of radio, and how people come together in the wake of earth shaking events (literally in this case!!)
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
It started out terrific, but the bouncing timelines detracted for me...
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just a lovely, human story
Kati Bourque
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was riveting. I couldn't put it down. It is part history, part memoir. It was very interesting how Jon Mooallem put the story together. Genie Chance should have a larger place in history for all that she accomplished after the earthquake and later in life. It is a shame that her story is just being told outside of Alaska.
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Jon Mooallem is a longtime writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and a contributor to numerous radio shows and other magazines, including This American Life and Wired. He has spoken at TED and collaborated with members of the Decemberists on musical storytelling projects.

His latest book, THIS IS CHANCE!, about the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 and radio reporter Genie Chance, will be

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