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When the Earth Shakes by Simon Winchester

When the Earth Shakes

by Simon Winchester

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The book covers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes. In each section, it takes about why and how they happen. Each section also shows examples of each type of events that happened. It also has graphs, photos and hand drawn pictures of the events.
  jengro3 | May 10, 2018 |
This is a well written book with lots of good pictures. Integrates the author's own biography with a description and history of the various, strongly related, natural disasters. ( )
  themulhern | Jun 29, 2016 |
Last week, I looked at The Dirtmeister's approach to geology. This week, I'm looking at a very different book but which deals with roughly the same subject.

Simon Winchester opens the book with a lengthy introduction about himself, starting with his education as a geologist, his decision to become a journalist and then a writer, and how much geology still matters to him and is integrated into his writing.

There are three main chapters, dealing with the subjects of the subtitle. Each one weaves personal experience, stories of true disasters, and the geological science behind the events as well as current science and research.

A brief afterword talks about the "natural" aspect of these events and having respect for the earth. Back matter includes further reading, websites, and films, acknowledgements, and index.

This was much slower-paced than Dirtmeister and it took me longer to get into the book, but once it really got going, in the volcanoes chapter, I found it impossible to put down and I finished the book with a much greater understanding of the science behind these natural disasters. I'm still not planning to live anywhere near them though and have given up my long-cherished dream of eventually moving out to the northwest coast.

Winchester is a good writer and puts together history, current events, and science in a way that's readable and interesting, if a little slow at times. Rather than compare this book to last week's review, I'd say they are for two completely different audiences. Dirtmeister would be a great resource for an earth science unit or for younger kids to browse and try out a few experiments. When the earth shakes is for a more serious reader who is interested in science and history and wants a comprehensive look at these events and the science behind them.

Verdict: If you can only get one of these titles, I'd go with Dirtmeister because it covers a wider range of science and will appeal to a wider audience, but ideally you'd purchase both and recommend When the earth shakes to strong middle grade readers who are interested in natural disasters and the science behind them. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780670785360; Published 2015 by Viking/Penguin; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | Aug 8, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670785369, Hardcover)


Headline-making natural disasters with devastating consequences for millions of people. But what do we actually know about these literally earth-shaking events?

New York Times bestselling author, explorer, journalist, and geologist Simon Winchester—who’s been shaken by earthquakes in New Zealand, skied through Greenland to help prove the theory of plate tectonics, and even charred the soles of his boots climbing a volcano—looks at the science, technology, and societal impact of these inter-connected natural phenomena.

A master nonfiction storyteller, Winchester digs deep into the powerful natural forces that shape the earth, exploring the how and why of world-changing events from the 19th-century’s infamous volcanic eruption at Krakatoa and the earthquake that flattened San Francisco, to the 21st-century tsunamis that devastated Indonesia and Japan. It’s a gripping story about what happens when our seemingly unmovable planet shakes, explodes, and floods—all richly illustrated with fascinating historical and stunning contemporary photographs.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 03 Jul 2015 23:30:47 -0400)

"'New York Times' bestselling author, explorer, journalist, and geologist Simon Winchester who's been shaken by earthquakes in New Zealand, skied through Greenland to help prove the theory of plate tectonics, and even charred the soles of his boots climbing a volcano looks at the science, technology, and societal impact of these inter-connected natural phenomena"--… (more)

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