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A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2005


    Author Simon Winchester gives a crisp and authoritative reading of 'A Crack in the Edge of the World,' and well he should as he not only is a spellbinding storyteller but also a geologist schooled in the mysteries of the destructions that can assail our world. The recent tragedy in South Asia reminds us once more of the horrific toll taken when our Earth is rent asunder, and through Winchester's eyes we see again the destruction that began on April 18, 1906 in San Francisco. While Winchester is certainly an accomplished scientist he relates the causes of this historic event with such clarity that lay listeners are able to easily grasp the ramifications of the theory of plate techtonics (a theory of geology which sets out to explain continental drift), while at the same time he weaves a fascinating narrative of what happened and what we have learned since that time about earthquakes, their causes and effects. It's well to remember that in 1906 San Francisco was the golden city, formed in part by the Gold Rush and the immigrants who poured in seeking their fortune. It was an exciting place, a place of promise. Then, quite suddenly, along with a number of other towns San Francisco was hit by an earthquake of tremendous proportions - 8.25 on the Richter scale. It took less than 60 seconds for it to ravage 490 blocks and turn 25,000 buildings to rubble. In effect, the city was toppled, soon to be reduced to smoldering ahes by the fires that followed. With 'A Crack in the Edge of the World' Winchester has made a valuable contribution to the archives of American history, and reminded us that we can be destroyed but never defeated. - Gail Cooke

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2012

    Great book from a great author.

    In my plans to go to San Francisco recently, I decided to read Mr. Winchester's book- I had already read two others by him. He is a well researched, very intellectual writer, and extremely detailed. If you want to learn about tectonic plates, and particularly the San Andreas Fault this book would be quite excellent.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    If you don't know what plate tectonics are, this is a must read book.

    Earthquakes happen and Winchester's book helps explain them. The floating 'islands' that we all live on are those plates, and their bumping and grinding together result in earthquakes. The book focuses more detail on the 1906 in San Francisco, but the explanations of why quakes occur is fascinating. Living in California I naturally have an interest in quakes. Winchester has a conversational tone to his writing that makes the complexies of plate tectonics understandable to the lay person without a geology major background.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    A Crack in the Edge of the World is worth pursuing

    A Crack in the Edge of the World, the story of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, is a fascinating story fill with many interesting details, profiles of people, and historic information. At times the geological explanations get difficult, but they are worth rereading and in order to comprehend them. The author digresses a lot, but these are all fascinating digressions that very gracefully lead back to the main ideas of the book. The research seeems inpeccable. The only criticism I have to the book is that the maps don't clearly show what the author is trying to point out. The maps and diagrams could certainly have been made much clearer. But, all in all, the book is af fascinating read.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Crack in the edge of The World

    Very detailed step by step leading up to the catastrophic event of the 1902 San Fransisco earthquake and it's fires. A lot of time on research was seriously spent into putting this book together. This is one of the rare books that talks about events that are not mentioned at all in history books. This is the reason why Simone Winchester is my top favorite athor

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2006


    it is really good read it and write your own review. You won't regret it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2006

    If earthquakes rock your boat and history keeps you afloat, then you'll love this book.

    I love the way Simon Winchester weaves history through the story of the 1906 earthquake. The whole book is very informative and filled with great small stories. I loved the book. It helped me get a better perspective on earthquakes. Thank you Simon ! Luke Thomas Holmquist

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

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    Posted January 17, 2014

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