08 January, 2010

Book review (sort of)

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

Well, here we are in Earthquake country. There was one yesterday - 4.1 on the Richter scale. Actually there's usually one somewhere in this part of California every day, but most are smaller than that. Yesterday's was felt by humans and not just machines. It wasn't felt by me though. Missed it completely. Every now and again I wonder if the kitchen is shaking but so far it has turned out to be the spin cycle on the washing machine.

As a result of reading Simon Winchester's book I now know much more about earthquakes and what causes them. It's a fascinating read. If you're looking for a book describing the SF earthquake of 1906 and its aftermath, then this may not satisfy as that's not what most of the book is about. This book is much more of an explanation of the earthquake and its geological context, giving a history of key events, an exposition of plate tectonics and the San Andreas fault's place on the planet. It is very interesting and readable - a good mix of science, history and travelogue. It's also a bit scary. Especially if you're sitting on the San Andreas fault itself as I am. Still I think I'm glad I read it. Knowledge is power and what have you, though if "the big one" hits, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do anything about it. So I'm just going to stop worrying about it which I think is what everyone else does.

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