• by Simon Winchester
  • Narrated by Simon Winchester
  • 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa (the name has since become a by-word for a cataclysmic disaster) was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly 40,000 people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event which has only very recently become properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round the world for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogota and Washington went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away.Most significantly of all, in view of today's new political climate, the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-western militancy by fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first eruptions of Islamic killings anywhere. Simon Winchester's long experience in world wandering, history, and geology give this fascinating and iconic event an entirely new life and perspective.


What the Critics Say

"Thrilling, comprehensive, literate, meticulously researched and scientifically accurate....It is one of the best books ever written about the history and significance of a natural disaster." (The New York Times Book Review(
"If you're looking for drama, you'll certainly find it here....Winchester manages a dry and ironic delivery, very much in keeping with his writing style. But the main point of interest when the dust has settled is the far-flung ramifications of this eruption upon world events. This is a winner." (AudioFile)
"All readers, science-prone or not, will be delighted by this experience-expanding book." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great subject, great writing, great voice

About a month ago I requested this title from audible and was very excited to find it available now. The author is a geologist and writes in a very pleasant style, easy to follow and very unique. Interesting facts about the catastrophe itself but also about the world, the technology and the people of 1883 are connected and very well projected. I admire the author for his reading skills. Often I find that authors should not read their own books and leave that task to the professional actors, in this case though, I enjoyed it very much. He has an excellent voice, and since he describes a few personal encounters, it is very delightful that he reads those to the listener himself. If people don't like this book, they may expect something else than this first class science report. It is not a love story, nor an imaginary tale. If you read scientific american, enjoy good writing and a new voice to read to you, you will enjoy this book.
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- rwise

Depends on what you're looking for...

If you love books full of details and in-depth history, as well as anecdotal tales and evidence, this book is for you! If you've read the Publisher's Summary and are expecting a book that's, well, "lively", you should probably look elsewhere. Case-in-point: It took nearly five hours to get to the explosion of Krakatoa! I'd seen this book in the book store and was beside myself with excitement when I saw it on Having just finished "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" by Douglas Adams, I was looking for something a bit more serious and dramatic. Unfortunately, "Krakatoa" wasn't what I was expecting, explaining everything from the political and economical history of the area to plate tectonics and Darwinism. Obviously, the author is very knowledgable on the subject, and a tremendous amount of research must have gone into this book -- and on the subject of Krakatoa, I personally found the latter half of the book, following the explosion, much more interesting...especially the discussion about Islam. I just depends what you're looking for.
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- Amy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-14-2004
  • Publisher: HarperAudio