Book Review Thursday: A Crack in the Edge of the World


Having lived in California for several years, and experiencing more than a few up close and personal, I thought I knew a fair amount about earthquakes.  I had at least a passing knowledge of the “big one” that struck San Francisco in 1906 when the “City by the Bay” was shaken to its foundations and then practically burned to the ground by the fires which erupted and raged for days.

The April 18 earthquake wasn’t the first to shake the earth in 1906, nor the last, during that extremely geologically-active year.  Around 5:12 a.m. an unsuspecting city, the “jewel of the west” was leveled, humbled to its knees.  Author Simon Winchester wrote a compelling account of not only the cataclysmic event but provided a detailed geological history of our ever-shifting world.

Winchester is a born story-teller and his knowledge of geological phenomena (he studied geology at Oxford) makes the book a compelling “page-turner” for anyone with an interest in going beyond the historical event and delving into the why, where and how aspect.  His use of technical jargon interspersed with related historical events made the subject easier to digest, although at times I found myself a bit overwhelmed and skimming through some parts.

Still, I loved the book and found the side stories compelling – compelling enough to jot them down for blog articles someday – Joshua Abraham Norton as the self-proclaimed “Emperor of the United States” will make a great Far-Out Friday article.  Another Simon Winchester book, The Men Who United the States, was reviewed here.  From that book I wrote two Far-Out Friday stories:    “The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872” and “Passing Strange”.

So much of science is over-the-head of the general populace, yet Winchester managed to make it a compelling and interesting read, as he always seems to have a knack to do.  His use of side stories with a little “tongue-in-cheek” left me wanting more.  I plan to keep reading his books if for nothing else but to find unique historical events to write about for the blog.  Stay tuned!

Rating:  ★★★★

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2015.

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