Mag's Reviews > Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883

Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
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's review
Dec 20, 2009

really liked it

I am slowly making my way through Simon Winchester’s books.
Krakatoa, his book from 2003, is about the biggest recorded volcanic eruption in human history that annihilated both the volcano and the island bearing its name, and caused the highest and longest lasting recorded tsunamis, which killed about 35,000 people.

Krakatoa, a volcanic island between Java and Sumatra began erupting in May 1883, and continued until August 27. On that day, the island exploded with a fantastic force of 100 megatons. The sound of the explosion was heard and recorded as far 3,000 miles away. The effects of such a powerful explosion were noticeable around the world with a global average temperature drop lasting for a few years following the explosion, and amazing sunsets caused by the dust in the atmosphere seen as far as Norway and England for three years afterwards.

Besides an almost minute by minute chronicle of the eruption, the book is full of interesting geological info and detailed historical background. Winchester credits Krakatoa and the research that followed it with a big advancement in our understanding of meteorology and in particular the workings of the jet streams and gas and particle movements in the stratosphere.

He also discusses the political and social aftermath of the eruption. He ventures an opinion that the Krakatoa eruption, seen by the local population as a punishment from the gods, together with the indolent and exploitive colonial Dutch rule have given rise to fundamentalist Islamic sentiments in the region.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia This guy must be a disaster lit specialist. Is this the explosion that Turner's characteristic paintings portrayed? Sounds about right time wise.

message 2: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag He is definitely a disaster/ forbidden places thrill seeker:) I am reading his book about Korea right now, and he ventured into North Korea a few times as well during the time when practically no Westerners were allowed there. Coming back to this book, he got a permit to climb Krakatoa (or what is left of it) when it was spewing lava, too. He is a geologist, so I guess anything to do with any Earth crust movement excites him. And, yes, Turner's spectacular sunsets and Munch's shouts are all connected to this explosion.

message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia How exciting. I might have to dip in to some of his books.

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