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An excellent book!
Simon Winchester goes into great detail in the book, as he does in his other books. And, as the description indicates, this covers far more than the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
Winchester ensures that readers of this book understand the context in which the 1906 earthquake occurred by giving extraordinary detail on the history of earthquakes and our understanding of them, the history of San Francisco (up to 1906), and detailed look at the mechanics of the San Andreas Fault.
The Publisher's Summary above clearly shows this is more than just a look at one particular earthquake. The excerpt from Publishers Weekly also describes this as more than just about the 1906 earthquake. Based on those descriptions, and after listening to the book, I have to say that I got everything I expected... and more.
Simon Winchester is the narrator for his book and does an excellent job.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful
That's how long it takes for the author to get to the actual story of the San Francisco earthquake. Yes - that's right almost 8 hours!
I would love to write a review that says - "what a great book", but I honestly can't. I read "Krakatoa" last year, and liked it so well I gave two copies as Christmas presents, however my one complaint about the book was the ratio of background material to the actual story that the book was supposed to be about.
In this book, the problem reaches EPIDEMIC proportions. Probably 1/4 of the book deals with the 1906 earthquake directly. The rest is Simon's travels around the US to other seismically active regions, commentary on the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco, the history of the Pentecostal movement in the US, etc..... If you read reviews on Amazon.com, even those who like the book comment on Winchester's meanderings (often without a clear direction toward a given point).
I don't care how many degrees from Oxford the man has. What this man needs is a good editor - one that will tell him that his endless ramblings will turn off many readers who will put the book down, rather than endure 2/3 of the book until he gets to the point.
When he does get to the point (finally) some of the material is interesting, however, the lack of human interest stories is really a downer.
A major disaster like the San Francisco earthquake can surely justify a book of this length, however Winchester must believe that 3-4 chapters of the book are sufficient.
Sadly, this will be probably be the last Simon Winchester book I read.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful