Customer Reviews for

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

A well written story

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, by Simon Winchester, was an informative read with an interesting point of view. The book starts off not by talking about Krakatoa, but with the history of the spice trade in the Sunda Strait. Winchester explains th...
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, by Simon Winchester, was an informative read with an interesting point of view. The book starts off not by talking about Krakatoa, but with the history of the spice trade in the Sunda Strait. Winchester explains the importance of the spices, the struggle for control, and the victory of the Dutch. He explains Dutch ideals and their vast trade network with the natives of Java and Banten, and the large amount of Javanese spices and Bantenese jewels the Dutch received. The Dutch settle on the small, quaint island of Batavia, (an island in the Sunda strait), that was filled with rich soil, dense foliage and amazing animal life. The Dutch build manors, ports, lighthouses, and the like all over the island and transform it into a rare example of a perfect world with nature living beside humanity, coexisting in a small island world in peace. After a long time of peaceful existence in this utopian world, the most horrible, terrible thing takes place. Through out the entire book Winchester uses detailed, factual information to support his opinions. What is fact, and what is not, is clearly stated so one does not confuse fact with opinion. The book is spun into a complex, gratifying story with painstaking detail in each chapter. Winchester thoroughly explains his opinions, and backs them up with weighted evidence. This book is a convincing, well written story about a disaster so large it had an affect on the entire planet. This story really opened my eyes as to how extraordinarily massive this explosion and resulting tsunamis really were, and how they changed the world. They leveled cities, completely wiped out islands near by, and killed over 36,000 people. The eruption also actually changed the weather because the massive ash cloud it produced blocked out the sun. Winchester has written a wonderful book that will interest teenagers and adults alike.

posted by Anonymous on January 1, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Technical vs Story

Soooo much technical/scientific background before you get to the actual story. Some was fascinating, some interesting and some just downright boring and tedious.

posted by DeeMarieRoman on January 20, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2007

    A well written story

    Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, by Simon Winchester, was an informative read with an interesting point of view. The book starts off not by talking about Krakatoa, but with the history of the spice trade in the Sunda Strait. Winchester explains the importance of the spices, the struggle for control, and the victory of the Dutch. He explains Dutch ideals and their vast trade network with the natives of Java and Banten, and the large amount of Javanese spices and Bantenese jewels the Dutch received. The Dutch settle on the small, quaint island of Batavia, (an island in the Sunda strait), that was filled with rich soil, dense foliage and amazing animal life. The Dutch build manors, ports, lighthouses, and the like all over the island and transform it into a rare example of a perfect world with nature living beside humanity, coexisting in a small island world in peace. After a long time of peaceful existence in this utopian world, the most horrible, terrible thing takes place. Through out the entire book Winchester uses detailed, factual information to support his opinions. What is fact, and what is not, is clearly stated so one does not confuse fact with opinion. The book is spun into a complex, gratifying story with painstaking detail in each chapter. Winchester thoroughly explains his opinions, and backs them up with weighted evidence. This book is a convincing, well written story about a disaster so large it had an affect on the entire planet. This story really opened my eyes as to how extraordinarily massive this explosion and resulting tsunamis really were, and how they changed the world. They leveled cities, completely wiped out islands near by, and killed over 36,000 people. The eruption also actually changed the weather because the massive ash cloud it produced blocked out the sun. Winchester has written a wonderful book that will interest teenagers and adults alike.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Krakatoa - The infamous volcano

    Being fascinated by volcanoes, I was excited to start reading this book given to me for a birthday gift. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and all of the information is very nicely laid out. What a daunting task it must have been to gather all the information contained in this book, and to arrange it into a sequence that makes sense and has good flow to it. Not only was that accomplished, but the closer you get to the first of the series of explosions that rocked Krakatoa and the surrounding islands, the more you can feel the tension building. This book might be a little overwhelming for some readers, since it deals with so much more than the explosion of the volcano and its catastrophic aftermath.

    This book also goes into great detail about things such as plate tectonics, sea floor spreading, continental drift, volcanic processes, evolution, natural selection, spice trade, the politics and history of Indonesia to name a few. I'm glad I had taken a physical geography class several years before I read this book so I could fully understand all of the scientific data being explained.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    Interesting read

    I'm not a science person so I'm surprised I liked this book. I saw something on t.v. about "the son of Krakatoa" so I went back to read this.The author doesn't spend the whole book talking about the volcano but goes back in history to describe the colonization of Indonesia by the Dutch. WInchester also spent a lot of time discussing plate tectonics and earth's magnetism.This is where I got a little lost. Like I said,I'm not a science person.
    Aside from the massive damage caused by the explosion of Krakatoa,Winchester describes beautifully how that event caused ripples around the world in other ways.The one idea I didn't expect was the volcano's role in politics that still reverberates today.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Technical vs Story

    Soooo much technical/scientific background before you get to the actual story. Some was fascinating, some interesting and some just downright boring and tedious.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2005

    Enjoyable and worthwhile

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested at all in geology, especially volcanoes. However, it is not an easy read for the most part, because the author spends most of the book explaining in detail the history of the area around Krakatoa. For this reason, I did not give it five stars, as I expected a much larger focus on the immediate happenings around the time of the volcano's eruption, but anyone with an interest in world history could find this book doubly enjoyable. For me, the scientific aspect of this book was simply fascinating. The author explained the conditions that probably caused Krakatoa's formation and existence, and went even further in discussing other topics. Potential readers should be aware that the scope of this book far exceeds the volcano of Krakatoa; in fact, the author even briefly discusses evolution and biology. Overall, it was extremely well-written and provides an incredible amount of information for anyone who wants to know what exactly happened to Krakatoa and the people affected by it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2003

    THE ERUPTION THAT ROCKED THE WORLD

    Simon Winchester, notably of The Professor and the Madman, illuminates another niche historical story. And what a story! Krakatoa's eruption in 1883 is usually presented as a footnote, if at all . . . but how?! The non-science piece de resistance, a possible tie in to fundamental Islam in the region. Nature as a religious catalyst had not been done, not in any substantive way, for several centuries -- and is a completely foreign idea to modern thought. The possibility is intriguing, at the very least. Without a doubt this book offers great science history, readable prose, and nice illustrations. Recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    Like some other reviewers mentioned it takes quite awhile to get

    Like some other reviewers mentioned it takes quite awhile to get to the actual volcano in this book about a volcano. And I also add my voice to those readers wanting more maps.
    Ebook-wise, this version needs to be cleaned up a bit. There were a couple of paragraphs that were repeated as well as odd word substitutions. (There were several times when the word "die" was used instead of "the". That is, unless author Simon Winchester was sending me a subliminal message.)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A fascinating read about a part of the world that I did not know

    A fascinating read about a part of the world that I did not know much about.  Indonesia will never be a "stranger" to me again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    CRACK THE SKY

    I love Simon Winchester. Only he can write a story about such a cataclysmic event with wit, humour and style. He sweeps us effortlessly around the globe, showing all the myriad people and events the eruption affected. Along the way we meet a cast of crazy characters, including a tiny, destructive circus elephant and his eccentric owner. Amidst all the frivolity, though, is a powerful, masterfully told story of incomprehensible disaster. You'll laugh, you'll cry. I particularly recommend the audio version which is read by the author. I find that when authors read their own works, they get another chance to convey their thoughts in their vocal performance. In this case, Winchester's smooth British voice adds an extra dimension of meaning and charm that you'll appreciate.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Main Clearing of MysticClan

    The clearing is a spot in the middle of a small cherry tree forest and it is usually sparkling from dew in the mornings of new-leaf and green-leaf. The cherry tree forest usual has a mystical fog that gave the clan its name. It gives some cats a eerie feeling, but the clan is used to it and walk in it to get closer with StarClan. In newleaf the clearing blossoms with wild flowers of all colors and the trees grow few cherries, but the clan get to eat a few cherries if they climb high enough.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great book for the History and/or Science Buff

    If you like reading history or if you are interested in geology then reading this book is time well spent. However if you dont have a base in geology the book at time will get confusing.

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  • Posted October 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Krakatoa

    Before August 27, 1883 Krakatoa was a lovely volcanic island in Intonesia before it blue its top and killed thousands of people w/ its mysterious tsunamies and changed climate all over the world. There's a lot of research in this book both scientific and historical. If you happen to strike upon this book and your not a science fan at all you will find it very fasinating regardless and very interesting. Simon Winchester really does make science fun to read about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2008

    Exceptional

    It is often said that 'I just couldn't put this book down.' That was definitely true of this book for me. Mr. Winchester is probably the most well-rounded author I have ever read, and I've been 'around the block' a few times! His knowledge of history, biology, geology and technology in general are indeed remarkable. I could go on and on with examples. This is a book from which I for one learned a lot. The author also paints fascinating vignettes of colonial life in Java that are most interesting. His claim to have become 'fast' at Morse code in two weeks however, I found laughable as a commercial operator. Then a little anti-Americanism seeped in with his remark about a 'sinister' American base at Diego Garcia. That was to be expected of a GUARDIAN contributor, I suppose. Altogether a very fine book and highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2007

    Not Enough About Krakatoa

    The Day the World Exploded August 27, 1883 written by Simon Winchester is a book full of information. The information given however can sometimes drift off the direct topic of Krakatoa. It's not necessarily a bad thing though as I learned alot about other things like trade and different scientists from around the world. I wished there was more direct information about Krakatoa. I wanted to know about the eruption, what caused it, and what it's effects were. This book talks about those things but in only about three or four chapters out of ten. Another objection I have is that the story was slow. I found myself skimming over parts and having to go back and reread them. This book is not an easy read. There is a lot of information and a lot of it is fairly complicated. Simon Winchester gets into not just Krakatoa but Indonesia as well. When reading it you must decipher his topics, what is related and what was not. Winchester jumps from topic to topic which makes it harder to follow though gives a lot of information on Krakatoa. The longest chapter in the book is all about the eruption and different views of people and different views of locations. Also, it was about what people were feeling and going through when the eruption occured. Winchester obviously did alot of research and it shows. The book is packed full of good imformation that he clearly thought was important even though I personally did not see it as being relevant. If you want to know a lot about all sort of different things about volcanoes and our world along with Krakatoa then it may be a good read for some people. If you are looking for a book that is all about Krakatoa this may not be the right book for you. I was disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2005

    The Best Book Ever written about Krakatoa

    Krakatoa, is the best book ever written about how the map of the world was sharped especially the Southeast Asia by the 1883 Volcanic the change the world for good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    Fantastic Book

    The book is very well written, providing human interest as well as the geologic conditions of that day. I read the book while on vacation in the South Pacific. It was chilling to sit there helpless knowing that the big one could be headed my way. I didn't find the maps too small, as previously reviewed. Most are from the time period so they are simply laid out in a different manner than one is used too. Overall just as good as Winchester's other excellent works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2004

    Tough, but interesting read

    The description of the volcano was very interesting, but getting to that point (about half-way through the story) was dry and difficult to get through. Unless the reader has a solid grip on science and early world history, he or she will get lost in what Winchester is trying to bring out. This book takes patience to read, but is worth the time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2004

    Lousy maps

    I'm finally at the point where the volcano really blew up. But, I have had a hard time pinpointing on the terrible maps where the towns that are in the forefront are: I was reduced to using a magnifying glass and even then strained my eyesight finding Anjer on the tiny Before Krakatoa map, which should have been enlarged and given its own page as well as the After Krakatoa map. Many other places mentioned I haven't bothered to squint to find, or they are nowhere on the maps in the book. It is nearly impossible to imagine the scope of the whole without knowing exactly where places are in relation to each other and to Krakatoa. This, in my opinion, severely lessens the impact the author was hoping for. The digressions about the modern science of geology solving some of the questions of Krakatoa were a big interruption in the flow of the story. It was interesting, but took away from the story-abruptly taking the reader from the 1800s and earlier history of the area to the mid-20th century and later sciences, along with some unnecessary personal recollections by the author, then back to the 1880s. However, in spite of what I feel are flaws in the editing process, it is a book I'm recommending to my friends.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    A good read, a better listen

    Winchester is an excellent writer, but I was even more impressed with his voice and how he presents his own writing. A great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2004

    Excellent Book, Excellent Performance

    I drive a lot for work and I heard of this book on my local NPR Station. Not really having time to read I picked up the audiobook instead. The book is excellent, well written with enough background to help you understand the main event and its consquences. Mr. Winchester does an excellent job of reading his material and draws you in. I have passed my copy around to several different people and they have all enjoyed it. I recommend this book for any road trip.

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