A Crack in the Edge of the World (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
As indicated by its subtitle, A Crack in the Edge of the World is focused on the earthquake of 1906, which destroyed much of the young city of San Francisco. That earthquake is easily worthy of a book of this length (more than 450 pages), both for the magnitude of destruction and for the human drama that accompanied it. Indeed, there have been many books already published on the topic, including memoirs of survivors, clinical accounts of the seismic causes, more lurid semifictionalized accounts of suffering and heroism, collections of photographs, and more engineering studies of how different types of structures fared. (This book lists some of these books in an appendix of “suggestions for further reading.”)
While this book uses the 1906 San Francisco earthquake as a focal point, its temporal and geographic scope is much broader, extending across millennia and continents. Indeed, the earthquake is not so much the reason for the book as it is the lens for looking at the sometimes-dry and always-esoteric science of plate tectonics, which concerns movements in the earth’s crust. Introduced in the 1960’s, the theory of plate tectonics, now widely accepted, explains earthquakes and other seismic events as being caused by the movement of continent-sized segments of the earth’s surface. These “plates” are in constant (albeit gradual) motion, riding on the earth’s mantle. The location where the edges of two plates meet is a fault line,...
(The entire section is 1612 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 22 (August 1, 2005): 1951.
Entertainment Weekly, October 7, 2005, pp. 80-82.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 15 (August 1, 2005): 841.
Library Journal 130, no. 15 (September 15, 2005): 76.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (October 9, 2005): 18.
Newsweek 146, no. 16 (October 17, 2005): 70.
People 64, no. 15 (October 10, 2005): 51.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 28 (July 18, 2005): 195.
Science 310 (October 7, 2005): 55-56.
(The entire section is 36 words.)