The Big Ones

How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them)
Narrated by: Dr. Lucy Jones
Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (118 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

By the world-renowned seismologist, a riveting history of natural disasters, their impact on our culture, and new ways of thinking about the ones to come

Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanoes - they stem from the same forces that give our planet life. Earthquakes give us natural springs; volcanoes produce fertile soil. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Together they have shaped our cities and their architecture; elevated leaders and toppled governments; influenced the way we think, feel, fight, unite, and pray. The history of natural disasters is a history of ourselves.

In The Big Ones, leading seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones offers a bracing look at some of the world's greatest natural disasters, whose reverberations we continue to feel today. At Pompeii, Jones explores how a volcanic eruption in the first century AD challenged prevailing views of religion. She examines the California floods of 1862 and the limits of human memory. And she probes more recent events - such as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the American hurricanes of 2017 - to illustrate the potential for globalization to humanize and heal.

With population in hazardous regions growing and temperatures around the world rising, the impacts of natural disasters are greater than ever before. The Big Ones is more than just a work of history or science; it is a call to action. Natural hazards are inevitable; human catastrophes are not. With this energizing and exhaustively researched book, Dr. Jones offers a look at our past, readying us to face down the Big Ones in our future.

©2018 Lucy Jones (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“In The Big Ones, Jones presents the history of natural disasters as the history of ourselves; looking back as a way to look forward.” (Los Angeles Times

“This incredible book by leading seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones shows just how influential natural disasters are on life as we know it.” (Chicago Review of Books, "The Best Nature Writing of 2018 so Far") 

 

“[A] bracing examination.... This work could prove beneficial to all who live in an area prone to natural disasters, which is just about everyone.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but neither deep nor insightful

This is not a scientific book. Listeners hoping to hear something about the science of storms or earthquakes or tsunamis will mostly be disappointed.

The topic of this book is human responses to catastrophes. That is an interesting topic on its own.

The book is preachy. That would be a problem if the book were a science book. However, this author is on a soap box talking about the value of preparedness and about the sometimes irrational responses to catastrophes.

The main value of the book in the historical anecdotes about particular "big ones": the Lisbon earthquake, the Sacramento floods, hurricane Katrina, and several large earthquakes. The book is worth listening to solely to hear these anecdotes.

I wish the book had gone into more depth on the topic of preparedness and on the details of how societies respond to catastrophes The author's insights and reflections were valuable, but too skimpy.

1 person found this helpful

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Very interesting and informative

This was a great mixture of science, history and how societies deal with disasters. The author/narrator covers the science behind such events as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanos, providing some very interesting facts, explains the societal issues at play and recounts the events that transpired around many well known catastrophic events such as Pompeii and New Orleans during Katrina, as well as some events not so well known among the general public. I was a little put off at first because she appears to be very judgmental regarding Christians, but as I read further I realized that she was simply laying a groundwork to explain why the belief structures at that time could have affected the circumstances leading up to some of these events and flavored the reactions to those events. Overall, I was fascinated.

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great!!!

I'm a natural disaster enthusiast. living in California I like to think I am prepared for the "big one" Dr. Jones does a fantastic job exploring our historical natural disasters and provides a fresh insight on how to prepare for it. she teaches you to consider the social and cultural imlications and consequences which I have rarely considered. I really appreciate this book. thank you Dr. Jones!

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Very Informative

Dr Jones weaves us through history and recent events with scientific information for the lay person. I couldn’t put this book down.

1 person found this helpful

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This book will save lives.

This book is the most concise and vivid description of the impact of the worst disasters in history and our human response, both heroic and tragic. The way forward in the last chapter is a success story and must read for all leaders in business and government.

1 person found this helpful

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Detailed, thought provoking, credible discussion

This is part textbook and part human interest story. It makes the very important point that we must prepare for disasters before they strike and how depending on government or charity will result in a much more costly and painful recovery.

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science & history used to inform preparedness and

This was truly excellent. Very good story structure, excellent mix of narrative, history, science, personal experience, and relation to modern policy and events. I really reccomend this book.

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important information - presented. too slowly

some fascinating information, could have been presented in far less time.

author goes into unexpected and unnecessary detail

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Finally a worthy disaster book!!

Having experience the 94 northridge earthquake lucy Jones details exactly what happens during and after a disaster strikes, i highly recommend this book to people that may live in an area prone to earthquakes and disasters, as this book gives very useful information. I've read other books about earthquakes but The Big Ones is by far the best! If Lucy Jones scares you with her dire analysis of disasters good! Wish i had read this book back in 1994 and acquired knowledge about disaster preparedness.