Ellen's Reviews > A Crack in the Edge of the World: America & the Great California Earthquake of 1906

A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
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's review
Jul 27, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction

I picked up this book thinking I would read about the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 - and I did. But it was so much more. I love when that happens.

Winchester has a way of weaving all sorts of minutiae into the big picture. He goes from talking about what individuals were doing at the precise moment of the quake (down to the second) to an explanation about the history of plate tectonics. He takes us on a continental trek to explain the geological basis for past earthquakes and, along the way, gives us a mini history lesson about the individuals who settled in North America. Amongst all the technical details about rock formations, seismology and the bare bones science of earthquakes, he manages to impart interesting little tidbits about the communities he travels through.

I learned a lot. Recently, when the 5.8 earthquake hit the east coast, I actually knew what the news person was talking about when she said it was an intraplate quake rather than interplate. That's got to count for something. All in all, this was an enjoyable and informative read.

Post Edit: Having now read other reviews of this book, I realize that what I liked about it, is not everybody's cup of tea! I guess the caveat is that it's not for people who want to get right to the nitty gritty of the San Francisco quake. Winchester does take his time meandering around the actual event and makes liberal use of scientific terminology, so if that's not your thing, be forewarned. Being a bit of a science geek, I didn't mind at all.


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Reading Progress

July 27, 2011 – Started Reading
July 27, 2011 – Shelved
August 17, 2011 –
page 357
August 24, 2011 – Finished Reading

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