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As he did with "Krakatoa", Winchester follows seemingly unrelated, meandering paths which all converge in San Francisco in April, 1906. He sets the stage with a discussion of the geologic history of the North American continent, traces the development of San Francisco from a rough camp to a city and brings to life many of its more colorful citizens. As was the case with "Krakatoa", the author reads his own work and thereby enhances it. His enthusiasm for his topic radiates through the pages, but his delivery is so well polished that the book suffers not one whit from the choppier readings often encountered by narrators who are not professionally trained in voice. This was a great book and a great listening experience.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Winchester can turn a phrase, but he doesn't succeed in creating a worthy book about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He spends so much time detailing the history of geology, America, California, and San Francisco, that the earthquake doesn't even happen until the second part of the download. You might think all this additional information weaves a fabulous introduction to this horrendous event, but he bites off more than he can chew. The coverage of these many (many) ancillary areas winds up being superficial. Then, when he actually gets to the earthquake itself (after an eternity), it seems like he spends a lot of time citing boring statistics. I was hoping for more personal accounts. His idea of personal accounts is describing how a half dozen or so individuals determined the precise time of the earthquake, down to the second. The portion of the book devoted to the actual quake is really small, after which he again goes off on more superficial commentary on such topics as the immigration challenges of the Chinese.
The last 18 minutes is an interview with Winchester (which is also available on Audible as a free download). I recommend that you just listen to that instead, as it is a relatively pithy recount of the book.
If you simply must download this book, consider starting on Part 2.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful