Synopses & Reviews
One in two people living west of the one hundredth meridian resides in California. Crammed into the San Francisco Bay area and the Los Angeles basin is a population greater than that of Texas. Both of these drought-prone regions need to import water over improbable distances, but reliance on imported water is not their Achilles' heel; what is, is the fact that each area sits astride one of the most violently active seismic zones in the world. A Dangerous Place
is both a compelling chronicle of the human eruption of development and progress that have created "the great exception" over the last 150 years, and a history of the natural subterranean upheavals that threaten that human achievement. It concludes with a chillingly realistic depiction of the impact an earthquake would have on the Hayward fault, which runs from San Francisco to San Jose ("sixty of the most populous, industrialized, infrastructure-dependent, economically valuable miles in the United States").
Here is subject and writer perfectly matched, in a narrative that harnesses fact and a gloriously inventive intellect. A Dangerous Place is a riveting parable of a civilization's rise and fall. And it is, as well, the coda to the brilliant career of the late Marc Reisner.
"If you are anxious about the safety of American cities, this book may give you a nervous breakdown. Reisner was an uncanny visionary and his testament is this terrifying warning note. It is not for the faint of heart." Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear
"A Dangerous Place represents an apocalyptic cadenza to Marc Reisners lifetime of environmental prophecy. Facing his own end, Reisner ever the moralist, ever the prophet of choice invites us to contemplate the inevitable consequences of putting California where we have put it: atop, that is, a subterranean sea of seismic volatility that will one day, inevitably, reassert itself." Dr. Kevin Starr, author of Americans and the California Dream
"Reisner manages the nearly impossible feat of explaining geopolitical history, hydro-engineering, plate tectonics and comparative seismology in an engaging, delightfully literate fashion." Publishers Weekly
From the author "Cadillac Desert"--the acclaimed saga of water and the American West--comes a vision of the future that California cannot escape.
In A Dangerous Place
, Marc Reisner, the author of Cadillac Desert
, the classic history of the American West and its fatal dependence on water, returns to the subject that never ceased to seduce him: California.
Writing with his signature command of his subject and with compelling resonance, Reisner leads us through California’s improbable history and rise from a largely desert land to the most populated state in the nation, fueled by an economic engine more productive than all of Africa. Reisner believes that the achievement of this, the last great desert civilization, hinges on California’s denial of its own inescapable fate. Both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas sit astride two of the most violently seismic zones on the planet. The earthquakes that have already rocked California were, according to Reisner, mere prologues to a future cataclysm that will result in destruction of such magnitude that the only recourse will be to rebuild from the ground up. Reisner concludes A Dangerous Place with a hypothetical but chillingly realistic description of such a disaster and its horrifying aftereffects.
About the Author
Marc Reisner worked for many years at the Natural Resources Defense Council. In 1979, he received an Alicia J. Patterson Journalism Fellowship and began the research for Cadillac Desert, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee, the subject of a PBS television series, and was included in the Modern Library's list of the Twentieth Century's 100 Best Nonfiction Books in English. He was also the author of Game Wars. Reisner died in 2000.