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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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Dan
  • Newington, CT, United States
  • 08-16-07

A poor choice

I've listened to several dozen books from -- 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

  • Overall
  • Melinda
  • Allentown, PA, USA
  • 02-14-06

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

  • Overall
  • nancy
  • Panama City, FL, United States
  • 08-26-07

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 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tim
  • Leesport, PA, USA
  • 07-30-07

Skip this one

Monotone narrator plus a small amount of material on the actual SF earthquake (at least from the human interest perspective) equals BORING!

2 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't bother

Horrible and boring. I felt cheated.

5 of 35 people found this review helpful