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The Big One: The Earthquake That Rocked…

The Big One: The Earthquake That Rocked Early America and Helped Create a…

by Charles Officer, Jake Page

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Jake Page does a very good job of detailing the history of the 1811/1812 New Madrid, Missouri earthquakes. While the book doesn't spend a whole lot of time on contemporaneous accounts of the quake, it does delve into the history of both seismology and seismologists. An interesting amount of space is given to those who have (erroneously) tried to predict major earthquakes and the their inevitable comeuppances. After Winchester's The Map That Changed the World, this is another good book on the natural sciences. A quick and informative read. ( )
1 vote NielsenGW | Dec 21, 2011 |
A popular history of seismology bracketed with two chapters on the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and early 1812. The jacket advertises the book as an exploration of the New Madrid quakes, but that's barely accurate; the first chapter reviews the historical records, and the (short) last chapter discusses what could happen in a future quake, but most of the book focuses on the history of human measurement of earthquakes and of the development of the theory of plate tectonics. One can understand why the publisher chose to present the book this way; there are many, many books on the history of geology, and few on the New Madrid quakes. Nonetheless, the bait and switch (probably not the authors' fault) is annoying. On the plus side, the description of the development of plate tectonics is one of the clearest I've read. The chapter on fraudulent predictions of earthquakes was a wash and could have been substantially cut without harming the narrative. ( )
  bezoar44 | Nov 15, 2008 |
I've always been fascinated by the science of natural disasters. Page and Officer do a great job exploring the big earthquake of 1811. ( )
  eduscapes | Nov 27, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Officerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Page, Jakemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618341501, Hardcover)

In the early 1800s a series of gargantuan earth tremors seized the American frontier. Tremendous roars and flashes of eerie light accompanied huge spouts of water and gas. Six-foot-high waterfalls appeared in the Mississippi River, thousands of trees exploded, and some 1,500 people -- in what was then a sparsely populated wilderness -- were killed. A region the size of Texas, centered in Missouri and Arkansas, was rent apart, and the tremors reached as far as Montreal. Forget the 1906 earthquake -- this set of quakes constituted the Big One.
The United States would face certain catastrophe if such quakes occurred again. Could they? The answer lies in seismology, a science that is still coming to grips with the Big One.
Jake Page and Charles Officer rely on compelling historical accounts and the latest scientific findings to tell a fascinating, long-forgotten story in which the naturalist John James Audubon, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, scientists, and charlatans all play roles. Whether describing devastating earthquakes or a dire year in a young nation, The Big One offers astounding breadth and drama.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:19 -0400)

Investigates the series of massive earthquakes, centered in what is now Missouri and Arkansas, at the start of the 1800s that wreaked almost unimaginable destruction on the American frontier.

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