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

Quality of Information: 10

Delivery: 8

This book was written a few years ago, and I purchased it while living in the UK for use as a pass-time during the winter.

I have to start out by saying that Simon Winchester is a superb historian – as well as a great journalist.  He studies a topic exhaustively before committing its story to paper, and in this case tectonic geology is the subject of his eye.  Both the science and the history of the science are presented here, and it’s a great primer for anyone who wants to get some basics of that particular field.

As well, Winchester goes through the history of California, and the San Francisco area in particular – how it grew from a simple town to a burgeoning metropolis in such a rather short time.

His depth, to a small degree, is also a detractor – the exhaustive nature of the coverage can at times be exhausting to read.  Overcoming this can be done fairly easily simply by parsing out the chapters into smaller doses, if needed.

All this serves as the buildup to explain the full impact of the natural disaster that transpired in only a few minutes, destroying most of the city over the following few days.  I’ll be traveling back to the US in September, and a weekend in San Francisco is on the schedule, so I’ll probably have to come back to this book again just prior so as to observe the area with a new eye.

Overall, if you’re a fan of history, this is a great read.


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