Krakatoa is a superb book that goes into great depth to set the stage for why one of the biggest volcanic explosions in the history of man was so important. Winchester reads his own book in an excellent voice. He is a bit too quick, but it is a long book and so it is easy to understand why he sets such a brisk pace. The book goes into wonderful depth about the cultural, historical, and geological history and impact of the eruption, but it is all at a "dinner party" level - one does not need an advanced degree to understand all of it.
Winchester lights the fuse with great background and historical preamble to the event, from the first westerners to view the subject, through the cataclysm. He describes with all possible detail the blast as witnessed by contemporary observers worldwide, and examines the fallout both obvious and obscure with the perspective of a modern historian. It requires some intellectual energy on the part of the reader to keep it all together, but the insight gained into the history of the event itself and the times in which that history unfolds is well worth the effort.
This is a fantastic book! I have read and enjoyed several of Winchester's books and find them all fascinating and well written. He weaves geology and history together in unanticipated ways. Since reading the Map That Changed the World, I have a new found respect/interest in the effects that geology shapes culture, and this book brings this notion to a new level, providing insights that are fundamental to my understaning of both the physical evolution of the planet and human history. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in either understanding how culture/society are shaped and changed and the emergence of the concept of a global village or in the history of our understanding of the earths geology. Also I highly recommend the Map That Changed the Wold as well as (not by Winchester) A History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. These three books together will gave me a profound respect/understanding of the link between earth history and human history.
There is not a single boring paragraph in the entire book. The author covers a myriad of subjects, directly and indirectly related to the Krakatoa eruption. Each chapter is fascinating. The reader is so in tune with the spirit of the book that he seemed to have written it himself. And, after checking with the book information, I see that he did! I'm glad I didn't miss this one.
While many of the stories that the author shared were interesting, this could have been slimmed down considerably. He goes into incredibly long-winded accounts of uninteresting stories several times. It would have been much better to establish some main characters and follow them thoughgout the timeline rather than bouncing around with many small almost irritating accounts.
Well! over all its an interesting book but i never thought i would get such a detailed history lesson of the region. I am better for knowing about the pepper trade'the dutch and the day to day life of the inhabitants then i was before i started.
I wish i was still taking geology i got a better explination of plate techtonics here then i did from my college instructor.
all in all very good but it might have been a thought to get a dramatic reader to voice the book <james eral jones does krakatoa> just a thought.
in closeing i did learn much more then i expected a good listen.
Beautifully told. He mentions Frederick Church's painting whose sky was inspired by the afterglow from Nov to Mar. Not mentioned is the sky in the famous painting "The Scream" which was also inspired by that same sky effect seen worldwide, despite having been painted a decade later (see Sky and Telescope magazine a month or two ago).