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Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded

Book Review

 

Title:

Krakatoa: The Day  the World Exploded

Author:

Simon Winchester

Publisher:

HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York, NY

ISBN:

0-06-621285-5

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

July, 2003

Rating:

In Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded, Simon Winchester revisits the story of the explosion of Krakatoa in the late 19th century. This is a hardcover book of over 400 pages.

Krakatoa: The Day the World ExplodedFor  weeks prior to August 27, 1883 the residents of Java and Sumatra had felt a number of strong tremors coming from Krakatoa. Those close to the volcanic island and passing seafarers noticed plumes of smoke rising from its crater. Although there was clearly evidence that large eruptions had occurred in the distant  past, nobody was prepared for what was to follow.

Tectonic plates colliding beneath the ocean floor led to a release of magma  from the depths of the earth, which built pressure under the large mountain.  Krakatoa finally exploded with a noise so loud it was heard thousands of miles  away. The tremors from the volcano caused pressure waves in the ocean over one  hundred feet tall that spread from the source to devastate everything in their path. Villages throughout the area ceased their existence and thousands perished beneath crushing waves and hot volcanic rock. After the smoke finally cleared, there was merely ocean where there had once been a mountain thousands of feet  tall.

This telling of the Krakatoa tale is at times a little rambling and the author digresses to explain how the continental plates shift on the surface of the earth to form earthquake and volcanic zones where they meet. He also interupts  the story to provide a background of the ancient history of the island based  on historical records and scientific evidence. However, his attention to detail  and recounting of first hand eyewitness descriptions makes this book utterly fascinating. Of additional interest are his photographs of Anak Krakatoa, the  heir apparent to the throne and currently rising from the floor of the ocean  to form a new volcano at this same danger spot. Anybody that is interested in  the history of the Krakatoa disaster will find Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded  an authoritative reference.

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