Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman
and The Map That Changed the World
examines the enduring and world-changing effects of the catastrophic eruption off the coast of Java of the earth's most dangerous volcano -- Krakatoa.
The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa -- the name has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster -- was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round die planet for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogotá and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere.
Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling back to life.
"It is thrilling, comprehensive, literate, meticulously researched and scientifically accurate; it is one of the best books ever written about the history and significance of a natural disaster." The New York Times
"Part history, scientific detective story and travelogue, with all the storytelling zeal of his bestselling The Map that Changed the World
With an eye for the smallest detail and a solid understanding of geology
[T]his is a good read for anyone interested in Indonesia, geology or earthshaking catastrophes." Valerie Jablow, The Washington Post
"A lesser writer would have trouble juggling such diverse topics as the seventeenth-century pepper trade, nineteenth-century Islamic nationalism and the geological processes that cause continents to drift and collide, but Winchester uses the disaster, which became a worldwide media event, to incorporate these stories (and many others into one mightily fascinating book." Eric Wargo, Book Magazine
"Like the volcano, his story takes its time in building force, but it steadily gathers strength while giving the reader a crash course in tectonic theory, continental drift, volcanism, and other elemental matters....Moreover, he adds, the explosion caused a wave of anti-Western violence in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, perhaps contributing to the eventual expulsion of the Dutch colonialists from the islands....Supremely well told." Kirkus Reviews
"Because of the spread of the telegraph...the news of Krakatoa spread nearly instantly around the globe. For the first time the whole human race could experience a historic event simultaneously through newspapers and word of mouth. This changed the way people conceived of their world
Krakatoa, in a very real sense, marks the beginning of the global village....a pleasure from beginning to end." John Steele Gordon, Boston Globe
"As with Winchester's other books, Krakatoa overflows with rich characters and vivid landscapes. His well-established love of words and etymologies enlivens descriptions and makes the familiar seem new....Winchester has created a lush, rich book which forgive the cliché vividly captures a bygone era." Doug Brown, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
About the Author
Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa. Those books were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Mr. Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty the Queen. He lives in Manhattan and in western Massachusetts.