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A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 | [Simon Winchester]

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906

The international best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa vividly brings to life the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that leveled a city symbolic of America's relentless western expansion. Simon Winchester has also fashioned an enthralling and informative look at the tumultuous subterranean world that produces earthquakes, the planet's most sudden and destructive force.
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Publisher's Summary

The international best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa vividly brings to life the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that leveled a city symbolic of America's relentless western expansion. Simon Winchester has also fashioned an enthralling and informative look at the tumultuous subterranean world that produces earthquakes, the planet's most sudden and destructive force.

In the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, San Francisco and a string of other towns were overcome by an earthquake registering 8.25 on the Richter scale, resulting from a rupture in the San Andreas fault. Lasting little more than a minute, the earthquake wrecked 490 blocks, toppled a total of 25,000 buildings, broke open gas mains, cut off electric power lines, and effectively destroyed the gold rush capital that had stood there for a half century.

Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities, as well as his unique understanding of geology, to this extraordinary event, exploring not only what happened in northern California in 1906 but what we have learned since about the geological underpinnings that caused the earthquake in the first place. A Crack in the Edge of the World is the definitive account of the San Francisco earthquake and a fascinating exploration of a legendary event that changed the way we look at the planet on which we live.

©2005 Simon Winchester; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Nonfiction (Unabridged)

"In this brawny page-turner, best-selling writer Winchester (Krakatoa, The Professor and the Madman) has crafted a magnificent testament to the power of planet Earth and the efforts of humankind to understand her." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (348 )
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4.5 (126 )
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Performance
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  •  
    lindal 07-30-15
    lindal 07-30-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A slice of San Francisco history"

    Very interesting book on the history of Frisco, as it relates to the 1906 earthquake. Being a California resident I was surprised how much I didn't know about this event and what happened before, during, and after. A little deep scientifically in the middle of the book for a non-scientist, but informative and pertinent to the topic so I learned much about geology I didn't know. Good read as always from Winchester, and well researched as always.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deloyce McKee 05-29-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    30
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    "Earthshaking Information"
    What made the experience of listening to A Crack in the Edge of the World the most enjoyable?

    I appreciated not only the depth of science, but also the history and humanity surrounding the major historic world tremors.


    What does Simon Winchester bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel R. Jensen Shillington, PA USA 11-18-13
    Daniel R. Jensen Shillington, PA USA 11-18-13 Member Since 2004

    dandudeus

    ratings
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    16
    2
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    "Another great book from a premier pop historian"
    What made the experience of listening to A Crack in the Edge of the World the most enjoyable?

    Winchester's tendency to focus on the human element while avoiding getting bogged down in triviality is one of his most admirable traits as a writer.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Crack in the Edge of the World?

    The tale of Enrico Caruso's variety of experiences on the day of the Earthquake is memorably funny


    Which character – as performed by Simon Winchester – was your favorite?

    Enrico Caruso stands out as the funniest of the bunch, though thankfully, there isn't a lot of "character" voicing.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Some Cities Live Dangerously!


    Any additional comments?

    A nice western companion to Winchester's Krakatoa, though I still slightly prefer that book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty A. Wright Sugar City, ID United States 04-19-12
    Betty A. Wright Sugar City, ID United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2008

    pony rider

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    "Lots of earthquake information, but..."

    If you are looking for a book about the San Francisco earthquake, read chapter 10. If you are interested in earthquakes, eclectic information about quakes, and a story that jumps like a conversation, this is it. It is an interesting book with information on seismographs, beliefs about the causes of earthquakes by various groups (before modern understanding of quakes), and how at least one religion got its start because of the San Francisco quake.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Chillicothe, IA, United States 10-11-11
    Tim Chillicothe, IA, United States 10-11-11 Member Since 2015
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    "A colossal waste of time"
    What disappointed you about A Crack in the Edge of the World?

    I only made it thru half of this book and I'm surprised I held out this long. You would have to be a tremendous geology fan to enjoy this in my opinion.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Pleasant Hill, CA, United States 05-03-09
    Philip Pleasant Hill, CA, United States 05-03-09
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    "Wonderful Read"

    This is a stellar book which takes a historical event and allows one to see it through the lense of its affect in the USA. For a non-Bay Area the author has an increible insight to the local area and its impact on the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yet Scottsdale, AZ, USA 02-05-06
    Yet Scottsdale, AZ, USA 02-05-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a scientific work"

    Mr. Winchester is not a geologist or even a scientist. Rather he is a journalist whose writing wanders around the 1906 earthquake, declares the evils of capitalism (including an anti-Walmart rant) and delineates a plan for terrorists to blow up the Alaska pipe line. This is geology??

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nancy Panama City, FL, United States 08-26-07
    nancy Panama City, FL, United States 08-26-07 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Far too much detail, lacks emotion"

    Author has a tendency to go off on tangents many of which barely stay on point. Listening at times is very laborious as the author elaborates on whatever extraneous topic seems to pop into his head. When finished I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up an easy three credits at any university that offers a geology course as the depth of detail covering the evolution of volcanoes as well as tectonic plates is the equal of any text book you’ll find on the subject. There is no connection to any main characters that typically draw the reader into a book so they can truly experience the emotional magnitude of the event as it effects the character.

    2 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Newington, CT, United States 08-16-07
    Dan Newington, CT, United States 08-16-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A poor choice"

    I've listened to several dozen books from Audible.com -- and dozens of others. This is a dreadful book -- boring, slow, and read poorly. It is the only book I've ever stopped listening to. Don't waste your money, or credit, on this one.

    2 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Allentown, PA, USA 02-14-06
    Melinda Allentown, PA, USA 02-14-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Memoir Not Science"

    This author is so self-possesed as to drive one crazy. The first hour talks about his drive across America and a camping trip. Not science. Not worth listening to.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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