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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic history and geology
My wife bought this in PB and I read it.
I was completely taken by Winchester
(as I was in all his other books).
A great read. I wanted it in HC.
Published 13 months ago by Ken Walker

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars a slog
This book is ostensibly about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but the reality is that it is a travelogue. Relatively little is about the earthquake itself, and he doesn't even mention the liquefaction that was so important. Winchester does his best to write as much as possible, many sentences when one will do. Some people may like this but I found the book a slog...
Published on April 5 2012 by David Huntley


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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic history and geology, June 7 2013
By 
Ken Walker (Saskatchewan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 (Hardcover)
My wife bought this in PB and I read it.
I was completely taken by Winchester
(as I was in all his other books).
A great read. I wanted it in HC.
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2.0 out of 5 stars a slog, April 5 2012
By 
David Huntley - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is ostensibly about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but the reality is that it is a travelogue. Relatively little is about the earthquake itself, and he doesn't even mention the liquefaction that was so important. Winchester does his best to write as much as possible, many sentences when one will do. Some people may like this but I found the book a slog.

The author clearly expects the reader to know far more geography than the average person, whether it be international or local to California or San Francisco. More maps would have helped. I found a few errors and deduce there are likely to be many.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's a good thing he's such a good writer..., June 8 2009
By 
Schmadrian - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
...otherwise, this book would have been a real labour to get through.

Simon Winchester is 'thorough'. And this is good, because at the heart of everything he writes, is a story...and he's a very good storyteller. However...

However, there were times when I had to confirm the title of the book. That it was in fact about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Because he was bringing in material and references from 'what seemed to be, anyway' all over the place. In fact, I often joked to myself that I was expecting there to be a link in the Appendix, a link to an online resource where you could read all about every person who was actually there that April day, a complete biographical history. (I'll add here that a great parody skit could be made of Mr. Winchester's habits in this area...although it would have limited appeal, so esoteric a subject, he would be...)

Having said that, I applaud his efforts. I now know so much more about this event than before. And feel I've also gained a ton of understanding about related elements of history, of society, of people in general. I feel my world has been delightfully expanded, courtesy of Mr. Winchester's tome.

But the book is woefully mis-titled.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "It was a hybrid year, a year between eras, one that still balanced on the cusp", Dec 21 2008
By 
Linda Bulger (United States) - See all my reviews
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Simon Winchester always gives an exhaustive review of his subject, and A CRACK IN THE EDGE OF THE WORLD CD: AMERICA AND THE GREAT CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE OF 1906 is no exception. A geologist by training, he follows up his other books on that theme -- KRAKATOA: THE DAY THE WORLD EXPLODED: AUGUST 27, 1883 (P.S.), THE MAP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: WILLIAM SMITH AND THE BIRTH OF MODERN GEOLOGY -- with this compendium on the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906

Winchester jumps off with the view of our planet from the moon, and launches into what he calls the New Geology. A quick preview of the earthquake in question, and then we move out of the prologue and into chapter 1: a catalogue of that very dangerous year, 1906; a year similar in the scope of its farflung disasters to 2004, which began with an earthquake in Iran and ended with the terrible Sumatran tsunami.

Before returning to San Francisco, Winchester elucidates the pioneers and principles of the New Geology; in a few words, Pangaea and plate tectonics. The pushmi-pullyu of giant plates grinding and subducting and spreading over the eons. Earthquake and volcano. He takes great pleasure in standing on the eastern edge of the North American plate, in Iceland, and then driving to the western edge at the San Andreas faultline. Along the way he mentions the strange phenomena that can occur in the middle of a land mass; think just-baked piecrust, wrinkling as it cools on a rack. But the main events are at the edges. When he reaches California there is the story of western settlement and land purchase, the explosive growth of San Francisco from its tent town days through the 1840s gold rush, and into the 20th century where he attributes to it a very rough-and-tumble reputation.

Finally, the earthquake; then the cleanup, and the political fallout, quite a lot about the Chinese Exclusion Act, the flight of artists from the Bay area, and his thesis that the growth of the Pentecostal religion was due to the earthquake. Then some information about the technology of predicting earthquakes. At last, 12 hours later if you listened to the audio as I did, the end.

I liked this book very much, and even enjoyed the listening (though I needed the actual book in hand to see the maps and photos, a real drawback in audio). That said, it had an unfocused feel to it. Winchester likes to cover a lot of ground -- in this case his travels, geology, the history of the planet and of California in particular, and a detailed but somehow impersonal telling of the earthquake story along with any cultural phenomena that followed in the next few decades. It's all somehow a bit too much, though it has a compelling flow to it, like lava down a slope, cooling and slowing and then being overtaken by another molten wave of well-crafted words.

You will have to judge whether this book is for you. It was a four-star "listen" for me, though not my favorite of his books. What can I say? I like the way the man writes.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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5.0 out of 5 stars No 'fault' here, Aug. 9 2008
By 
Ralph Muench (Mellonville, Saskatchewan) - See all my reviews
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Excellent! One of Winchester's best works. This man researches his topics thoroughly. His style is dry English, yet it comes but very creative and entertaining. He delivers an immensely interesting read. Seems to have a nack for these subjects that time has forgotten, but were once events bigger than 9/11.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Creaking World of Winchester, Jan. 5 2006
This review is from: A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 (Hardcover)
By midday - after I had picked up my copy of Simon Winchester's new book "Crack in the Edge of the World" at a place safely several hundred miles from the edge of what oddly-named "Tuzo" Wilson calls the "North" American Plate, and which may be located above a nexus of crustal faults which might millennia ago have jerked spasmodically much as the loaded freight train of the San Andreas Fault, and now known as my local post office -well, it was some seconds after noon. You have to put up with a lot of this sort of thing for a fascinating subject. Sadly on the few bits I do know about he was in error. Canada's diamonds are not in the accreted terranes of Yukon but in the craton of the Northwest Territories, and Canada's latest Territory Nunavut is not a Province. (Had to get my own back for his disparaging comments on fine Canadian towns like Watson Lake and Whitehorse.) I rather feel that given events following publication of Simon's previous book "Krakatoa", we might be justifiably apprehensive that Gaia is also reading his books and rumbling with mirth.
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