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Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 (2003)

by Simon Winchester

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,1131212,857 (3.81)291
History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:

The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano ‚?? Krakatoa.

The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa ‚?? the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster ‚?? was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round die planet 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 Bogot√° and Washington, D.C., 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 significant of all ‚?? in view of today's new political climate ‚?? the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere.

Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling b… (more)

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» See also 291 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
This excellent book is jam packed with history, prehistory, and science. Geology, geography, biology, politics, religion, technology, just... everything, all of it intricately researched and interconnections detailed. Very readable and well presented. Fantastic. ( )
  llysenw | Feb 25, 2024 |
I read this book a long time ago and I remember enjoying it. My memory could be faulty but I thought there was a mention about the colorful sunsets in NY after the explosion and that those wildly colorful skies appeared in many of the Hudson River School paintings. ( )
  ellink | Jan 22, 2024 |
This is a very comprehensive look at Krakatoa and the region in general, with an overview of the history of Indonesia, economics, politics, the Dutch rule, religion, and many other things. You get a very broad briefing about the region both before, during and after the main eruption of Krakatoa, and also receive interesting insights into science and technology, both past and present, relating to volcanoes and geology.

Even though the book is full of information, it never gets boring. The author is very good at presenting the facts in a compelling and captivating way which entertains you as well as informs you. ( )
  macaroni.samsonite | Oct 1, 2023 |
Reading anything by Simon Winchester is like going into a restaurant that has a twenty-plus page menu. So much information and everything looks good. I personally find Winchester fun to read because he is not didactic, dry or stale. His personal anecdotes add flavor and spice to just about any topic he cares to write. In this case, "the day the world exploded," the day the volcano, Krakatoa, erupted. Winchester delves into the science behind the disaster; what caused the eruption and the deadly tsunami that followed. For example, on the "explosivity index" Krakatoa was a seven; measured by the amount of material that is ejected and the height to which it is spewed through the atmosphere. Rest assured, he will tell you everything beyond the science as well. Death counts, survivor recollections, political implications, even information you didn't know you needed like the origin story of time zones and anecdotal information about historical characters. He'll joke about the different ways to spell Krakatoa and emphasize the fact that the original island was blown to smithereens.
My only letdown was that I was disappointed with the inclusion of a black and white photograph of Frederic Edwin Church's painting of a sunset over ice on Chaumont Bay of Lake Ontario. The whole point of mentioning the painting was the colors most likely caused be Krakatoa. Not helpful as a black and white picture. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Aug 30, 2023 |
Reason read: TIOLI, shared read
I've not read anything by this author before. At least I don't think so. He writes as a journalist and in this book he uses the episode of the volcano of Krakatoa to look at the history of this time period including science, shipping, including how a volcano effects climate. And he proposes that the eruption helped to trigger anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 16, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
Most controversially, Winchester attempts to credit Krakatoa with the rise of militant Islamism in Indonesia.
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winchester, Simonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chinami, ToshihikoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Cumptich, Roberto de VicqJacket designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jay, ConeyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vannithone, SounIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I dedicate this book, with pleasure and with thanks, to my mother and father.
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(Prelude) It was early on a warm summer's evening in the 1970's, as I stood in a palm plantation high on a green hillside in western Java, that I saw for the first time, silhouetted against the faint blue hills of faraway Sumatra, the small gathering of islands that is all that remains of what was once a mountain called Krakatoa.
Though we think first of Java as an eponym for coffee (or, to some today, a computer language), it is in fact the trading of aromatic tropical spices on which the fortunes of the great island's colonizers and Western discoverers were first founded.
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Indonesia itself has and has had more volcanoes and more volcanic activity than any other political entity on the earth, in all recorded history.
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History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:

The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano ‚?? Krakatoa.

The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa ‚?? the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster ‚?? was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round die planet 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 Bogot√° and Washington, D.C., 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 significant of all ‚?? in view of today's new political climate ‚?? the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere.

Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling b

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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