Saturday, June 4, 2016

Earrthquakes in Human History

Earthquakes in Human History
© 2005 Jelle de Boer, Donald Sanders
304 pages

de Boer and Sanders' "Earthquakes" is exactly what it says on the tin: a quick survey of how earthquakes have affected human history.   An initial section explains the basic causes of earthquakes, and subsequent chapters reflect on activity in the middle east, England,  Greece,  Japan, South America, the American midwest, and the Pacific Coast.  The authors lead with a retelling of the quakes' immediate effects, like the days of fire consuming San Francisco in 1906; this is followed by material on how seismic activity has shaped the local geology, and finally thoughts on the long-reaching effects. The long-reaching effects are the weakest point of the book, with the authors giving credits to earthquakes for everything from the collapse of states like Sparta and Portugal, to the rise of the scientific revolution. That last is overdoing it, methinks.    Take it as a narrative account of some of the Earth's deadliest earthquakes, strengthened by explanations of how quakes occur where they do,  and it succeeds.

Disaster 1906, Edward F. Dolan

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