The Great Quake

The Great Quake

How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet

Book - 2017
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New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

In the bestselling tradition of Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm , The Great Quake is a riveting narrative about the biggest earthquake in North American recorded history -- the 1964 Alaska earthquake that demolished the city of Valdez and swept away the island village of Chenega -- and the geologist who hunted for clues to explain how and why it took place.

At 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, a magnitude 9.2. earthquake - the second most powerful in world history - struck the young state of Alaska. The violent shaking, followed by massive tsunamis, devastated the southern half of the state and killed more than 130 people. A day later, George Plafker, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, arrived to investigate. His fascinating scientific detective work in the months that followed helped confirm the then-controversial theory of plate tectonics.

In a compelling tale about the almost unimaginable brute force of nature, New York Times science journalist Henry Fountain combines history and science to bring the quake and its aftermath to life in vivid detail. With deep, on-the-ground reporting from Alaska, often in the company of George Plafker, Fountain shows how the earthquake left its mark on the land and its people -- and on science.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Crown, 2017.
ISBN: 9781101904060
Branch Call Number: 551.2209 FOU
Characteristics: vii, 276 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, 24 cm


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Mar 21, 2018

New York Times science reporter Henry Fountain recounts the story of the great quake of 1964 in Alaska, the second most powerful ever recorded in this compelling book. He moves between the human element of the story and the science, and the resulting book informs and enlightens throughout.

Dec 12, 2017

This is as much--possibly more--a history of seismology and plate tectonics as it is a story about the Good Friday quake and its effects on the people of Alaska, both during and after the quake itself. It's accessibly-written and for the most part flows well, but it does slow down in spots. I did find parts of it a chore to get through (considering the part of the world, rather like panning for gold).

Oct 07, 2017

I generally enjoyed the book, I wish though it covered more of the science aspect of the quake and not the personal stories of those victimized by it. You can discuss the stories of Valdez (and others) without giving the life history of all the residents. To much details in the personal, not enough detail in the science.

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