Kristi Schoonover's Reviews > Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens

Eruption by Steve  Olson
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read May 2, 2022 to May 16, 2022.

I like to read nonfiction, and I’ll confess, there is much of it that isn’t an easy read, even if I’m riveted by the topic. Steve Olson’s Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, however, is an exception, and on the 42nd anniversary of that fateful 1980 day, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

What Olson really discusses here is the conglomeration of factors that led to the deaths of 57 people—who were, contrary to the way it was spun for the press, not in what was a dedicated danger zone (except for three, two of whom had permission and one who just refused to leave his lodge). Rendered in poetic language in several places, the narrative is poignant, visual, and heartbreaking in sections, with those names we’ve seen in the headlines brought to life. Olson also gives important history about the area and the economic and political backdrop of 1980, which also played significant roles in how things panned out. Although it’s incredibly well-researched—there are probably fifty pages of sources, citations, and end-notes—this doesn’t feel like a dry history at all. It reads like a solid piece of creative nonfiction, in the vein of Kristen Iversen’s Full Body Burden (though not centered on one person’s experience) and Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa. Olson has done a tremendous job with honoring the victims who thought they were safe. I highly recommend this for those interested in volcanoes, geology, disasters, and the Pacific Northwest—and as a sobering reminder that life is short, and that we must always be aware and vigilant.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 2, 2022 – Started Reading
May 16, 2022 – Finished Reading
May 18, 2022 – Shelved

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