Krakatoa
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 the 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.

Krakatoa Details

TitleKrakatoa
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 5th, 2005
PublisherHarper Perennial
ISBN-139780060838591
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Science, Geology, Environment, Nature

Krakatoa Review

  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Simon Winchester books is a bit like reading a web page. You start in one place, but soon succumb to sundry alluring links. On-line, of course, we are all much likelier to then wander off on yet more linked tangents, but thankfully, in his actual, paper and ink book, Winchester keeps bringing us back to the main page. And a large page it is. Simon Winchester - image from his Twitter pageOne can expect certain things in Simon Winchester books, a wide array of information, from a look at relevant geology, Reading Simon Winchester books is a bit like reading a web page. You start in one place, but soon succumb to sundry alluring links. On-line, of course, we are all much likelier to then wander off on yet more linked tangents, but thankfully, in his actual, paper and ink book, Winchester keeps bringing us back to the main page. And a large page it is. Simon Winchester - image from his Twitter pageOne can expect certain things in Simon Winchester books, a wide array of information, from a look at relevant geology, where appropriate, to history, to some of the personalities relevant to his subject, to a look at how the object of his scrutiny changed the world, economically, politically, even artistically. Put away your checklist. It is all here. There is a very accessible discussion of plate tectonics, not just as the process relates to Krakatoa (in a very, very big way) but of the history of the theory, with some surprising links to well known scientists who, Moses-like, led the way without actually reaching the final conclusion. Winchester always satisfies by presenting a cornucopia of facts about the time and the subject. How loud was this very big bang? It was heard over three thousand miles away. In fact the Krakatoan blast was one of the five loudest events in human history. Illustration was made before the big bang - image from BBCHe offers a considerable history of the global relations in that part of the world. The Netherlands was the significant imperial force in the area at that time, so much of what we know of the event was recorded by Dutch observers. Winchester describes what happened to area settlements as a result of the eruption. It will come as no surprise that associated tsunamis were the major cause of death.Ash that was shot out of the earth by Krakatoa circled the globe, affecting not only the visual beauty of sunsets (enough to influence many painters) but the climate as well, causing a shortened summer, and thus a poor crop. What happens after the volcano has exhausted its explosive urges? Or, where did that island go? Winchester looks at what came after, both the re-emergence of geological elements of Krakatoa, and the population of that land by life. Readers of Simon Winchester know what he offers. A rich, educational and entertaining experience. If you love to learn new things, particularly about historical people and events, and like to take on that info in a most pleasant way, Winchester is one of the best guides in the world, a terrific writer, who leads you on an unexpected journey with treasures of knowledge to be found. Don’t let the pressure build up too far. Read Krakatoa before you burst. The daughter of Krakatoa, Anuk Krakatau, looking angry in 2009=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pagesA nice overview of Winchester’s professional life can be found hereReviews of other Simon Winchester books we have read:-----The Perfectionists-----Pacific-----The Man Who Loved China-----Atlantic-----The Map That Changed the World-----The Professor and the MadmanItems of Interest-----The Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program page - lots to be learned here-----BBC - Anak Krakatau: Volcanologist explains Indonesia eruption images-----Daily Mail - Will Krakatoa rock the world again? Last time, it killed thousands and changed the weather for five years, now it could be even deadlier... - by Marcus Dunk
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  • Silvana
    January 1, 1970
    Update 26/12/2018: Eruption event and underwater landslide at Anak Krakatau occurred on December 23, 2018, killing over than 400 people (and counting). Pictures: https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/201...Original review:Wow. This has got to be the most out of topic (OOT) book I’ve ever read. It saddens me to only award it two stars. I usually have a soft spot for nonfictions *sigh*Why on earth did I do that? Some of my friends rated it five stars, after all… Here’s a glimpse of my train of thoughts while Update 26/12/2018: Eruption event and underwater landslide at Anak Krakatau occurred on December 23, 2018, killing over than 400 people (and counting). Pictures: https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/201...Original review:Wow. This has got to be the most out of topic (OOT) book I’ve ever read. It saddens me to only award it two stars. I usually have a soft spot for nonfictions *sigh*Why on earth did I do that? Some of my friends rated it five stars, after all… Here’s a glimpse of my train of thoughts while reading this book. You’ll see why.Beginning:“Yay, finally I get to read this book. A nonfiction about (something major happened in) Indonesia, oh the excitement!...*reading the first pages* Hmm ok, spice trade….pepper….Dutch early occupation…I already know most of the things here…but obviously the author never intended this book only for Indonesians so okay lah…But…but now he’s talking about map making…what the…I have a baaaad feeling about this book…oh crap now he’s blabbering about J.P. Coen (first VOC governor general)…hmm ok some of the factoids are insightful but if he’s keeping this OOT streak….hmm now stories about living in (the old) Batavia…I knew that….and that…and that…*skipping*…where’s the frickin Krakatau story?...OMG tell me he did not just drone on the Wallace line (and his life story) and continental drift theories for 60 pages? Seriously? 60 pages? Couldn’t he shorten it to 5 pages max?” Seven hells!"*closing the book* *pissed*Almost in the middle:“Now page 115 and I haven’t read anything exciting about the eruption….ok now about living in (the new Batavia)…Daendels….Rafles….Bogor….dance parties….*skip skip*….Ahhh now he’s finally talking about the earlier (suspected) eruptions of the volcano…interesting speculations…hmmm yeah this book is growing on me now….wait wait, why he’s giving me a history lesson about Lloyd’s insurance? And the submarine telegraph cables? I know they’re relevant to the story but the sudden “expositions” in the middle of the main story is upsetting me…. Oh wonderful…truly marvelous Mr. Winchester, now you’re yapping about the history of news agencies/Reuters….throw me some bones here…*closing the book* *pissed*Halfway:“Yikes it took halfway to the book to get to the real story! Hmm ok….now I know the difference between volcanic and earthquake vibrations…early warning system turned out to be quite ok…reports from various sources including ships….LOL the Dutch was offering disaster tourism (unique factoid) with daredevils going to the islands, walking in calf-deep ash to check out the craters (while the volcanos were still preparing for the big bang and spewing smokes here and there)…..er…what was with the elephant chapter? So, apparently there was a circus troupe in Batavia a night before the kaboom and an elephant went panic. The author for unknown reasons (maybe he felt the need to give attractive title to his chapters) made a chapter titled The Curious Case of the Terrified Elephant, 11 pages, but the elephant itself was only mentioned in the last 2 pages. Kind of reflecting the content of the book itself, huh?” *closing the book* *slightly pissed – getting used to it by then*The crack of doom:“Finally *flexing my muscles” (now I’m on page 209) The book has at least 384 pages…..Whoa, great writing. Great facts. Quite gripping. *concentrating* *frowned at some facts* *nodding in satisfaction* *feeling good for the first time when reading the book*Near the end:“Er….why Indonesian rebellion is discussed here? Now, now Mr. Winchester, you’re giving the eruption too much credit. *skip skip* Oh wow, a chapter about the Krakatau Jr. This is a must read. Uhuh. Yessir. This volcano is alive and kicking and close to me. I hope I’ll be long gone before it erupts again….{well, seven years after I wrote this review, deadly eruption has occurred.}Hmm wait..wait *flipping back a few pages* the book is over? But but…I only read something useful for about 150 pages…does this copy has missing pages? Am I dreaming?” *scratching my head in utter confusion* *closing the book after realizing it wasn’t a dream and no missing pages*Final thoughts:Well, ok if the author could only write 150 pages why not make the book of only 150 pages of the REAL BLOODY DEAL? More than half of the book was about background stories, for Wallace’s sake! Why couldn’t he write like Dava Sobel in her enchanting (yet CONCISE) account about the invention of longitude (Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time) which is a far less sexy topic compared with a super volcanic eruption, I daresay.Reading this book is like going to the movies, expecting to watch a drama-action movie, but interrupted with commercials and trailers on other movies even during some of the action scenes. Sorry, I am a very busy book-reader whose reading time is so valuable and hate to see it wasted. Thank goodness I only borrowed this book *putting it back on my boss’ shelf, kthxbye*
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  • Jason Koivu
    January 1, 1970
    Simon Winchester could turn your decrepit granny's boring old stories into lively, magical tales. He has a way of putting the reader into the past while making them feel as if the historical subjects he writes about are fresh and very much of the present. Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded is no exception. Though this raging volcano's past exploits in the form of catastrophic explosions can only be guessed at for lack of reliable eyewitnesses aside from its late 1800s eruption, Winchester still manage Simon Winchester could turn your decrepit granny's boring old stories into lively, magical tales. He has a way of putting the reader into the past while making them feel as if the historical subjects he writes about are fresh and very much of the present. Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded is no exception. Though this raging volcano's past exploits in the form of catastrophic explosions can only be guessed at for lack of reliable eyewitnesses aside from its late 1800s eruption, Winchester still manages to crowd your senses with the sights, sounds, smells and very feel of the whole experience. Why only 4 stars for such great writing? The exposition gets boggy at times. Because there is so little information on the history of Krakatoa's first supposed explosions, extraneous supporting data had to be collected and explained, and that can be long-winded, meandering and at times tedious. But if you like history and don't mind some educational detours, Krakatoa... is well-worth your time.
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  • Trevor
    January 1, 1970
    Another masterful book by Simon Winchester. I really enjoyed this one – so much so that I’ve bought a copy for my father for Father’s Day. When I was in Primary School one of my teachers once spoke about Krakatoa. Most of what he said wasn’t true, for instance, he said that the tidal wave went around the world twice. Naturally, the 8 year old me had visions of a huge wall of water drowning the world. Krakatoa was bad, but not quite Biblical. Winchester is a pure delight to read. He has such a va Another masterful book by Simon Winchester. I really enjoyed this one – so much so that I’ve bought a copy for my father for Father’s Day. When I was in Primary School one of my teachers once spoke about Krakatoa. Most of what he said wasn’t true, for instance, he said that the tidal wave went around the world twice. Naturally, the 8 year old me had visions of a huge wall of water drowning the world. Krakatoa was bad, but not quite Biblical. Winchester is a pure delight to read. He has such a vast spread of interests and a keen (and unfailing) eye for the ludicrous and the amusing that it is hard to tell what delight is next in store. The discussion on the Circus that was in town at the time of the bang was magical – exactly the sort of thing that I find irresistible. The idea of the man who caught cannonballs for a living losing three fingers the first time he tried it – I mean, it is almost Pythonesque. But it is the breadth of themes that impresses the most about his books. This isn’t just a book about Krakatoa – as interesting as the parts of this book are that are directly about Krakatoa – but also about such topics as the growth of militant Islam in Colonial Indonesia, plate tectonics, the biological diversity of the Australian and Asian sides of the Indonesian Islands and the nature of the Dutch East Indies Company up until the time of the explosion. This would make a wonderful documentary series for television – I think geology is an utterly fascinating science and one which is so incredibly recent – much of what we ‘really know’ about this science we have only ‘really known’ since the mid-1960s. This book covers this by a man who played a minor part in one of the discoveries that made this new science come to be.But the stories about the people who survived the eruption – the boat loaded with paraffin trying to avoid hot rocks falling out of the sky, for example – sounded like something made up for a film staring Harrison Ford. I can see I’m going to have to read all of his books now – but what is one to do?
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Over the weekend I read Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883, a book in which Simon Winchester has the gall to make fun of a geographically mistitled film called "Krakatoa, East of Java," while himself failing to provide an adequate map of the region. There are historical maps, there are maps of where the sound of the explosion could be heard, there are numerous diagrams of fault-lines and continental and oceanic plates, and there is even a black-and-white reproduction of a pain Over the weekend I read Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883, a book in which Simon Winchester has the gall to make fun of a geographically mistitled film called "Krakatoa, East of Java," while himself failing to provide an adequate map of the region. There are historical maps, there are maps of where the sound of the explosion could be heard, there are numerous diagrams of fault-lines and continental and oceanic plates, and there is even a black-and-white reproduction of a painting showing a marvelously colorful post-Krakatoa sunset--but there isn't a single map showing where the volcanic island lay in respect to its near neighbors Java and Sumatra. Nor is there a map showing the pre-eruption island to scale, nor one showing the progress of the fatal tsunamis.That oversight could stand in for the faults of the book in general. Winchester reads like a fusty but enthusiastic professor whose interests rove over many disciplines. He deals with the history of the theories of evolution and plate tectonics, his own experiences researching paleomagnetism, the economics of the spice trade, telegraphy; he provides a lengthy history of the Dutch colonization of Indonesia. These sections are individually interesting, but they feel like the rote exposition of a disaster film: you just want to get to the explosion. Winchester seems to be so excited about providing a wealth of hors-d'oeuvres and desserts that he neglects the main course.The description of the explosion itself is made complicated by the way the author flips back and forth in time, telling each source's story in full before moving to the vantage point of the next observer. Nearly all of the sources are Dutch or English, though the English are no more than tangentially involved in the story. The more than thirty thousand Javanese who died in the tsunamis following Krakatoa's eruption receive short shrift, since the author is more interested in recounting the subsequent studies of doughty Englishmen with their barometers. He makes the interesting point that Krakatoa blew up at a crucial stage in the early history of telegraphy and wire news services but does not pursue the point more than anecdotally.The book was full of interesting information, but it felt slapdash, motivated by the author's indulgence of his own curiosities rather than his anticipation of the reader's. I came away from it with an intense desire to re-read what remains my favorite book about Krakatoa--fanciful though it is--The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois.
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  • GoldGato
    January 1, 1970
    Krakatoa. Krakatoa! Krakatoa.Simon Winchester does it again. He lured me into purchasing this book because of the subject itself... the monstrous volcanic explosion that became the byword for catastrophe. And once again, Winchester let me down. The man does his homework, he gets the research done, and he has his facts in line. But. He. Is. Boring.How can a book about a volcano that obliterated an island and launched a massive killer tsunami be dull? I mean, Charlton Heston should be running t Krakatoa. Krakatoa! Krakatoa.Simon Winchester does it again. He lured me into purchasing this book because of the subject itself... the monstrous volcanic explosion that became the byword for catastrophe. And once again, Winchester let me down. The man does his homework, he gets the research done, and he has his facts in line. But. He. Is. Boring.How can a book about a volcano that obliterated an island and launched a massive killer tsunami be dull? I mean, Charlton Heston should be running through the pages or something. The reader should be cowering beneath the bedsheets with a flashlight, terrified of what might erupt from the next page to be turned. We're talking about a disaster that lifted a SHIP and carried it into the jungle, where it rested with its entombed sailors for decades. Wow.But. He. Is. Boring.Three stars for excellent research and factual knowledge, but a finger puppet re-enactment would be more thrilling.Book Season = Summer (never turn your back on the sea)
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  • Deborah Ideiosepius
    January 1, 1970
    In Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded Simon Winchester again weaves the subtle magic of telling a factual story with the fascination that is too often reserved for thrillers. Krakatoa is a real life thriller, the most long lastingly impressive volcanic eruption in so many ways and all are explored in this book.First there is the historical element; 1883 when the final eruption occurred is definitely historical, but recent enough that there are a lot of records and eye witness reports to dr In Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded Simon Winchester again weaves the subtle magic of telling a factual story with the fascination that is too often reserved for thrillers. Krakatoa is a real life thriller, the most long lastingly impressive volcanic eruption in so many ways and all are explored in this book.First there is the historical element; 1883 when the final eruption occurred is definitely historical, but recent enough that there are a lot of records and eye witness reports to draw from, so it is well documented history. Before the eruption is covered however we are given an insightful, in depth look at the social political situation in the region. How the Dutch came to be in power there, the wealth of the spice trade, the intricacies of the people living in the region, all these things are covered in sufficient detail that someone who is coming to the story with little actual knowledge of the region is well versed before Krakatoa is addressed.Then there is the geological story, the science of how volcanoes in general and Krakatoa in particular occur and behave, but in order to appreciate the science in the time of the eruption we are given the history of how geology rose to be the science it is today. And despite having read a fair bit of geology and plate tectonics I am always surprised all over again at how recently plate tectonics became recognised.So there is an awful lot of information surrounding the area and event before we reach the actual eruption. Now I personally love this type of storytelling, the long meander to discuss all the interesting things surrounding the event, so that when the main eruption happens there are no questions, no confusion. Despite enjoying this reading experience I am not blind to the fact that it takes time and attention to read: This is not a fact book that you can knock off in a couple of sessions, this requires attention to get the most out of it.When we reach the eruption it is breathtaking, exciting and all that was worth waiting for, totally worth the teasers in the lead up.The part in which Winchester describes the revolution that led to modern independent Indonesia is an eye opener. He links the regional rise of Islam and the Arabian peninsular's influence to the violence which, while it did lead to independence from colonisation in the region, is uncannily echoed by international Islamic behavior and goals. It was an eye opener for me because while I know Islam was a prevalent religion in Indonesia, I never knew how it came to be so. Now I know more.The section after the eruption was an unexpected joy: The detailed description of the geological changes and the successional biology of the islands re-establishing themselves was fascinating, as was the peak into the future of what might yet happen with Anak Krakatoa. All in all a long and satisfying reading experience.
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  • Cara
    January 1, 1970
    Krakatoa is a scientific history of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, a volcano located on a small island between Java and Sumatra in what is now Indonesia and what was then the Dutch East Indies. Like all Simon Winchester books, this one takes a long, erratic detour over the course of a couple hundred pages before actually reaching the point. That won't hinder your enjoyment of the book as long as you're not in a hurry, but I thought I should mention it.Winchester studied geology in college, a Krakatoa is a scientific history of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, a volcano located on a small island between Java and Sumatra in what is now Indonesia and what was then the Dutch East Indies. Like all Simon Winchester books, this one takes a long, erratic detour over the course of a couple hundred pages before actually reaching the point. That won't hinder your enjoyment of the book as long as you're not in a hurry, but I thought I should mention it.Winchester studied geology in college, and though he ended up working as a journalist, it's clear he's still passionate about the subject. As a science writer, he's really excellent. He explains the science behind volcanos, as well as the history of the study of plate tectonics, continental drift, and vulcanolgy. This is the most interesting part of the book. However, as a history writer, Winchester is, well, not so good. He omits large parts of the story; most notably, he barely mentions the actual Javanese and Sumatran people who lived in the area of Krakatoa until after the eruption itself. He treats the history of the area as if it started and ended with European colonialism. He draws specious conclusions without clear evidence. For example, he tries to link the eruption of Krakatoa with rise of anti-colonial sentiment at the end of the 19th century. This may have some truth in it, but he completely ignores the fact that anti-colonial movements in many part of the world increased during this time period. If Krakatoa had anything to do with it, it certainly played a rather small part.The part that annoys me most (no doubt because I am Muslim) is that Winchester portrays the native religion, Islam, with inaccuracy and dismissiveness (at best) and pure offensiveness at worst. He uses archaic terms such as "Mohammedism" and refers to things such as the "Islamic Church" and "Islamic Priests". Anyone with even a remote understanding of Islam knows that "Mohammedism" is an offensive and inaccurate term and there is no such thing as an Islamic church or a Muslim priest. He tries to draw a connection between the eruption of Krakatoa and the rise of "radical Islam" - though he seems to equate any serious practice of Islam (such as going on Hajj, one of the five pillars) with "radical Islam". He refers to the Indonesian people as "converts" to Islam rather than native practitioners - Islam has been a widespread religion in Indonesia for 800 years! By that standard, almost all Muslims are converts, along with most Christians. I could go on, but I will refrain. At times, I honestly felt like I was reading some colonial treatise from a hundred or two hundred years ago.To be fair, the chapter on Islam in Indonesia is just a small part of the book. It may not be entirely fair of me to rate this book down based on just one chapter. But then again, maybe I should judge Simon Winchester's work by his own standards: when discussing a historian who wrote about previous eruptions of Krakatoa, he criticizes him for a few inaccuracies and consequently discounts his entire work.
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  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    Entertaining, interesting and tedious (sometimes all at once), Winchester's take on the eruption of Krakatoa and its after effects is a smorgasbord of general geological history, historical re-enactment of the eruption and the end of Dutch colonialism in what is now known as Indonesia. With that said, my three star rating reflects some of my 'cons' with this book. He tends to repeat himself about specific things over and over and the chronology is off-putting (he goes back and forth between befo Entertaining, interesting and tedious (sometimes all at once), Winchester's take on the eruption of Krakatoa and its after effects is a smorgasbord of general geological history, historical re-enactment of the eruption and the end of Dutch colonialism in what is now known as Indonesia. With that said, my three star rating reflects some of my 'cons' with this book. He tends to repeat himself about specific things over and over and the chronology is off-putting (he goes back and forth between before and after the eruption and then back before causing slight confusion). I enjoyed learning about plate tectonics/continental drift theory once again, but I can see how some may find it tedious since Krakatoa isn't really referred to in detail until later on in the book.As I enjoyed The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, this wasn't as enjoyable, but doesn't put me off him completely.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    All gone. Plenty lives lost. That is the story of Krakatoa, only the 5th greatest volcanic explosion in history but probably the loudest. What intrigued me was Winchester’s assertion that this natural disaster was the first world-wide “social media” event. It happened at a time when communication technology enabled the news to be transmitted world-wide in a few hours through undersea telegraph cables. In the Victorian age, science was “sexy” and many amateur science aficionados are fascinated by th All gone. Plenty lives lost. That is the story of Krakatoa, only the 5th greatest volcanic explosion in history but probably the loudest. What intrigued me was Winchester’s assertion that this natural disaster was the first world-wide “social media” event. It happened at a time when communication technology enabled the news to be transmitted world-wide in a few hours through undersea telegraph cables. In the Victorian age, science was “sexy” and many amateur science aficionados are fascinated by this event. Long before McLuhan’s “global village”, this eruption captured the attention of the world. I’m giving the book 4 Stars. However, I can understand why many might find this a 2 Star read because you don’t get to the eruption until past page 200. And he wanders off the main theme many times before the big boom.Winchester takes you on a roundabout tour before arriving at 10:02 AM, Aug 27, 1883. Luckily, I was interested in most of the topics. First you get a history of discovery and the colonial claims to the resources of the area. Then you wander off to learn about the unusual biodiversity of the Wallace Line which then progresses to a discussion of geology. Follow the twists and turns leading to the final discovery of plate tectonics, a global theory that was finally established in 1965. But you won’t get to the volcano yet because he needs to explain the history of the telegraph and the undersea cables. And then he takes you into the news business and the rise of the Reuters News agency. How about a bit on the Lloyds insurance empire? Sure. Dutch colonial rule, Javanese suffering, racial prejudice, religion, circuses (say what?), cartography, previous explosions, ancient super-Krakatoa, origin of the name Krakatoa/Krakatowa/Krakatau. You get the picture. Lots of related information prior to the main event.The strongest part of the book is the description of the start of the eruption…which occurs 3 months before it blows up. In May of 1883, the island/mountain starts to come to life, culminating in the explosion heard almost 3,000 miles away. The pressure spike traveled around the world 7 times! The tsunamis did the most damage, killing over 35,000. The actual Krakatoa eruption and aftermath only cover about 150 pages, definitely not enough for me. But I want to visit Indonesia and see the area. Son of Krakatoa is building and will surely go off someday. Having lived near Vesuvius in Italy for 3 years, I can imagine the concern of those likely to be affected by any eruption. It is always in the back of your mind.The last part of the book is the weakest, attributing an Islamic rebellion against the Dutch to the aftermath of the eruption. Winchester makes a lot of allusions to harsh colonial rule by the Dutch but never really gets into specifics. This weakens his assertion on the short-lived rebellion. But I would like to learn more about the colonial era.Strong recommendation if you don’t mind wandering far afield.
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  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    This book starts slowly, but really becomes interesting as the rumbles of Krakatoa become more ominous resulting in several eruptions. Eventually, most of the volcano disappears into the sea. Along with the eruptions, the area suffers a massive tsunami which causes a great loss of life. I've always been fascinated by volcanoes such as Krakatoa and Tambora so this was a good read for me. And with the reappearance of another volcanic cone, Anakrakatoa, presents the possibility of another devastati This book starts slowly, but really becomes interesting as the rumbles of Krakatoa become more ominous resulting in several eruptions. Eventually, most of the volcano disappears into the sea. Along with the eruptions, the area suffers a massive tsunami which causes a great loss of life. I've always been fascinated by volcanoes such as Krakatoa and Tambora so this was a good read for me. And with the reappearance of another volcanic cone, Anakrakatoa, presents the possibility of another devastating explosion.
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  • cameron
    January 1, 1970
    I read this several years ago but remember it clearly. It is a terrific book and moves at a fast clip, The kind of book you can't put down. How an author can create such tension and awe when every reader knows what happened, is beyond me. Wonderful journalism and descriptions which put you in the middle of everything happening to the characters he discusses.
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  • Nigel
    January 1, 1970
    I found most of this extremely interesting and the author writes very well indeed. He manages to weave a number of threads into the basic story of this massive volcanic eruption. That said, for me, it was not quite as good as his story of China through the medium of the Yangtse.I found the section on continental drift went on a little too long and was beyond what I really wanted to know. Equally I thought the claim that the eruption caused a real shift in aspects of the world order i I found most of this extremely interesting and the author writes very well indeed. He manages to weave a number of threads into the basic story of this massive volcanic eruption. That said, for me, it was not quite as good as his story of China through the medium of the Yangtse.I found the section on continental drift went on a little too long and was beyond what I really wanted to know. Equally I thought the claim that the eruption caused a real shift in aspects of the world order interesting but rather brief. The detailed story of the eruption from those close by at the time was absolutely fascinating. I'll continue to read Winchester's books from time to time.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted this book to be better than it was. While it has a lot of factual information about Krakatoa, it tells the tale with a number of sidetracks and blind alleys rather than in a linear fashion. At many points, it's hard to tell whether the author is relating something that happened before, during, or after the explosion.And, unfortunately, the explosion itself is a very small portion of the book. Winchester dedicates 64 pages to explaining the origins of continental drift I really wanted this book to be better than it was. While it has a lot of factual information about Krakatoa, it tells the tale with a number of sidetracks and blind alleys rather than in a linear fashion. At many points, it's hard to tell whether the author is relating something that happened before, during, or after the explosion.And, unfortunately, the explosion itself is a very small portion of the book. Winchester dedicates 64 pages to explaining the origins of continental drift theory. Why? Ostensibly because it's continental drift that causes Krakatoa to erupt. In reality, it seems Winchester does it in order to relate his own brief experience working in geologic research as an Oxford student, as well as his personal experiences rubbing elbows with some of geology's best-known names. Eliminating these 64 pages would have made this a tighter and more intersting book.Winchester does manage to tell the story in an interesting fashion once you get past that chapter. I just wish he (or his editor) wouldn't let himself go down so many blind alleys, and that he would be more clear when he was going backward and forward in time. Rather than telling the story in a linear fashion - here's what happened on the night of August 26 in these five different locations, here's the explosion, here's what happened in Batavia, Anjer, etc. after the mountain blew - he starts by telling us a little bit about what went on Sunday afternoon in Anjer, tells us a little about what happened in Batavia at that time, sidetracks for a couple of pages with information about the storage of natural gas and how it exhibits atmospheric pressure changes, moves over to ships on the ocean and tells their stories through the final explosion of Krakatoa, backtracks to early Sunday evening in Anjer, backtracks again to Sunday morning in Anjer, tells some of what happened to the ships from the perspective of someone on land, tells the Anjer story until about 6am, gives a bunch of one-sentence survivor anecdotes from the end of the event, backtracks to Monday monring, then back again to Sunday evening, then back to Batavia for the final twelve hours, then a full report on the Batavia situation from beginning to end, then back to Monday morning on Anjer, just before the final explosion...and so far we're only 30 pages into a 130-page chapter on the explosion! With all the back-and-forthing in time, it's often difficult for the reader to know what location and what point in time she is reading about.Winchester's biases are on full display, here, too, and they are troubling. One example, from page 15, as he discusses the colonization of what is now Indonesia:"The Portuguese from the warm and lazy south were slowly driven out and replaced by doughty Europeans from the cold and more ruthless north." There's three things wrong with this sentence: It talks about the "Portuguese" and "Europeans" as separate peoples, making it sound like the Portuguese are not Europeans, it equates temperate climates with laziness, and it equates cold climates with both courage and ruthlessness. This kind of ethnotyping has been dumped in most academic fields over the past forty years, and for good reason. Other examples of stereotyping are found on page 145 ("It seems now a measure of the Chinese laborer's legendary tolerance for appalling working conditions..." Tolerance, or desperation?)There are a number of points in the book where, by Winchester's word choice, he shows how little he thinks of Indonesians. It doesn't seem intentional, but it's distinct and noticeable. One example, from page 253: "Each of those snared by the Telok Betong wave speaks of running, wildly, panicked, trying madly to stay ahead of the wave, following natives running wildly too..." [italics mine:]. In this sentence, "each of those" should refer to all people, but it's clear from the sentence construction that Winchester is only referring to European people, because if the phrase "each of those" encompassed both Indonesians and Europeans, the bit I italiscized wouldn't follow.Notably, the only experiences Winchester uses here are the experiences of the Europeans. In part, this may be because he doesn't have facility with the languages spoken there and thus can't research the texts - but that's what a good research assistant is for.Really, I want to give this a 2.5. But I'll round it up to a 3.
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  • JT
    January 1, 1970
    Alright, I know I scored this with 3 stars, but that is because it is just LONG and DULL in places. This book is about the last great Global event right before the modern era of the industrial revolution. You learn so much and gain such an insight into this event that you can't help but feel smarter. Hell, you feel like you've earned your PhD. in Geology or some anthropological earth science by the time you reach the end of this bad mamma-jamma! If you have a few weeks of your life to waste (pro Alright, I know I scored this with 3 stars, but that is because it is just LONG and DULL in places. This book is about the last great Global event right before the modern era of the industrial revolution. You learn so much and gain such an insight into this event that you can't help but feel smarter. Hell, you feel like you've earned your PhD. in Geology or some anthropological earth science by the time you reach the end of this bad mamma-jamma! If you have a few weeks of your life to waste (probably longer depending on how dry you like your reading) this is the book for you. I honestly do suggest it, it is a completely fascinating subject and the writer is very, very good. It does help to hear his voice on CSPAN or something. I saw him on there once and he had that educated English Oxford accent going on. Now I read his books and feel like I'm reading along with Masterpiece Theater!
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  • Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
    January 1, 1970
    This book was pretty good. It did get quite dry at points, and draaaaag on when it did get dry. I did learn a lot more of the history before Krakatoa erupted, which is the vast majority of this book.
  • MisterFweem
    January 1, 1970
    A lot of the reviews I've read for this book criticize Winchester for being, well, slow. Slow to get to the action, or whatever.Well, this isn't that kind of book. Though it's written of a Hollywood blockbuster event, this isn't popular fiction. It's a scientist's approach to a worldwide calamity, and as a result of that, Winchester earns the right to be a bit slow and methodical, delving into the significance of Indonesia in the science of evolution and how the science of plate tect A lot of the reviews I've read for this book criticize Winchester for being, well, slow. Slow to get to the action, or whatever.Well, this isn't that kind of book. Though it's written of a Hollywood blockbuster event, this isn't popular fiction. It's a scientist's approach to a worldwide calamity, and as a result of that, Winchester earns the right to be a bit slow and methodical, delving into the significance of Indonesia in the science of evolution and how the science of plate tectonics plays in the area. Personally, I loved his scientific delvings, even if they do "slow" the narrative down a bit.
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  • Peter Tillman
    January 1, 1970
    B/B+ -- pretty good, if over-detailed at times. Say, 3.5 stars, as it seems better in memory (2018) than when I read it (2005). He is a first-rate writer.
  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    My father used to be a sailor before he retired, he did find himself all over the world and had a fascination with the sailing boats which was ironic at least him being a ships engineer. Another fascination he had was with countries and history, when I gave him this book about the explosion of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa he was interested as it had to do with his favorite country where he was born and where he on a ship met my mom. And of course it had to do with a natural event that had a s My father used to be a sailor before he retired, he did find himself all over the world and had a fascination with the sailing boats which was ironic at least him being a ships engineer. Another fascination he had was with countries and history, when I gave him this book about the explosion of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa he was interested as it had to do with his favorite country where he was born and where he on a ship met my mom. And of course it had to do with a natural event that had a serious impact on the world around us that showed that humanity in the face of nature can only accept what is being dealt by nature.This book is about on of the better recorded volcano eruptions of modern times that really did make an impact on the whole world. On the 27th august 1883 Krakatoa an volcanic island near the Indonesian Island in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in the Indonesian province of Lampung (at that time called Nederlands-Indie a colony of the Netherlands).With an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6, the eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT (840 PJ)—about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little Boy bomb (13 to 16 kt) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.The 1883 eruption ejected approximately 25 km3 (6 cubic miles) of rock. The cataclysmic explosion was heard 3,600 km (2,200 mi) away in Alice Springs, Australia, and on the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,780 km (2,970 mi) to the west.What was left was a hole in the water an the island of Krakatoa was wholly disappeared in one large explosion. Eruptions in the area since 1927 have built a new island at the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for "Child of Krakatoa").This book is about the times this event took place and the writer does his best to show us the geo-political situation at that time, where science was at when this happened and how it was experienced by people in recorded history. And of course the consequences in the aftermath in which the Banthen massacre was in my personal opinion was a bit of a stretch of including, albeit perhaps interesting to read about the Islam and its goals even back in the 19th century Asia.The book does linger a lot on tectonic plate theory that was in its infancy at that time and did become an explanation on the subject of earth and volcano's, the writer has managed to make even the more scientific explanations in this book understandable for the mere non-science people like me who still enjoy an interesting event and want to know more about it and its setting in history and implications. It is well written and researched book that does deliver a lot of information in a way that remains interesting through the whole book. An interesting look at the world of previous centuries with the knowledge that when it comes to volcanoes we can only watch and hope they do not erupt in your lifetime but like Pompeii that was build close to the Vesuvius Volcano there are major human settlements close to many volcanoes who were they to become active would almost certainly lead to a massive loss of life. And we can only hope that science does become better in predicting outbursts but if they are like Krakatoa the damage will be incredible in our modern times. An interesting book that describes humanity versus nature and humanity is interesting in the face of natures incredible power. Not only for historians but also for people who want to learn more of the world around them.
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  • S.
    January 1, 1970
    when I first saw KRAKATOA some eight or whatever years ago, I flipped through it at the bookstore and thought it unimpressive. hardcovers are what, $25 these days, and if you think about it, that's four or five movies (depending on the theatre/ netflix or blockbuster) or it's a lobster dinner or its a night's stay at a guesthouse in bali or singapore. don't underestimate the power of $25 ! since that time, I've now read 7 full Simon Winchester books and have a copy of one or two more buried some when I first saw KRAKATOA some eight or whatever years ago, I flipped through it at the bookstore and thought it unimpressive. hardcovers are what, $25 these days, and if you think about it, that's four or five movies (depending on the theatre/ netflix or blockbuster) or it's a lobster dinner or its a night's stay at a guesthouse in bali or singapore. don't underestimate the power of $25 ! since that time, I've now read 7 full Simon Winchester books and have a copy of one or two more buried somewhere on the e-reader, and this wide-ranging, curious, evocative writer really deserves the praise he's received.as others have mentioned, Winchester's talent lies in immersing you in the world in which he describes. it's not just a matter of evoking the Dutch East Indies through smell and cuisine, as a merely competent reader can-- it's telling you period detail like the Krakatoa explosion was the first global-level news item to be carried across the recently-laid telegraph network-- it was the first "breaking news" so to speak, in an era when passenger pigeons were still being used to carry the dispatches across national lines and when gutta-percha-coated copper wires finally solved the problem of crossing the entire atlantic ocean with undersea cables.details like that-- and the simmering indonesian national identity; the evocative 'bare-breasted balinese girls who walked across black sands' in the actually existing south sea paradise before contemporary religion arose and ruined everything-- these kind of things draw you into the world Winchester is creating, and the result is a solid, master-level work of craftsmanship. 4/5 solid
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  • Yael
    January 1, 1970
    On August 27, 1883, an immense volcano on an island in the Sunda Straits of immense archipelago that was the Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia) annihilated itself in an explosion that changed the world. Thousands of people in the vicinity of the volcano died right there; many more were made homeless and destitute as a result of it. The shock wave from that titanic explosion manifested as atmospheric pressure waves -- sound waves -- heard thousands of miles away, and the disaster was follow On August 27, 1883, an immense volcano on an island in the Sunda Straits of immense archipelago that was the Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia) annihilated itself in an explosion that changed the world. Thousands of people in the vicinity of the volcano died right there; many more were made homeless and destitute as a result of it. The shock wave from that titanic explosion manifested as atmospheric pressure waves -- sound waves -- heard thousands of miles away, and the disaster was followed by an enormous tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Dust generated by the eruption entered the atmosphere and was carried around the planet for years; the dust caused gorgeous, lurid sunsets with unsettling displays of light, but it also made global temperatures plummet, with consequent losses of crops, disastrous levels of snow and rain in many areas of the world followed by massive erosion and destruction of habitat, and countless other catastrophes. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Washington, DC and Bogata went crazy in reaction to the horrendous atmospheric shockwaves generated by the event. The sound of the eruption was heard in places as far away as Australia, India, and islands thousand of miles away. And the eruption combined with other causes, such as brutal treatment of native populations by the Dutch, to trigger a wave of a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among Java's fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first modern outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere.Krakatoa has done this before in various incarnations. In Catastrophe: An Investigation Into the Origins of the Modern World (previously reviewed here on this site), David Keys describes the global havoc wrought by such an eruption in the Sunda Straits in 535 AD, made far worse than that caused by the eruption of 1883 by lack of rapid transit and communications of the sort that were available in the second half of the 19th century. Krakatoa, known among volcanologists as a supervolcano because of its size at eruption and its potential for destruction, shares with the Yellowstone, Wyoming, Long Valley, California, and Naples, Italy volcanic domes (http://www.solcomhouse.com/yellowston...) the ability to caused worldwide disasters over periods of many years, thereby heavily impacting human civilization and human populations over most of the Earth, and wreaking havoc on the habitats and ways of life of most of the Earth's other creatures. Its eruptions have literally changed the course of history, and may have altered the course of the evolution of our species and numerous other life-forms, Earth-bound versions of large impact events due to comets and asteroidal materials.Unlike the Yellowstone supervolcano, however, Krakatoa's last two monstrous eruptions occurred within the last two thousand years. The last Yellowstone eruption occurred 2.1 million years ago, well before the rise of modern hominids leading to Homo sapiens. The most recent eruption of Krakatoa occurred only 125 years ago, well after the rise of modern Western industrial civilization, the invention of the telegraph, and the proliferation of railroads throughout the world, a time when European and British colonization of large areas of Asia and Africa had been underway for centuries, and the political currents of the time were delicately balanced, just waiting for a good, hard push to send them roaring into new channels. In the Dutch East Indies, the eruption of Krakatoa provided that push, resulting in massive riots against the Duth masters of the people of that area that ultimately culminated in the downfall of much of the Netherlands' most profitable colonial endeavors.The impact of the eruption on global weather patterns translated into a vast impact on the world economy and the economies of countless nations and empires, including the largest. The ecological dynamics of the Earth's wildlands and the productivity of cultivated lands were disrupted for years, possibly driving many wild species of animals and plants to extinction. Crops were destroyed and large herds of domestic animals raised for their meat and milk were killed throughout the human world, which in turn heavily impacted human politics and economics and the lives of millions of people.However, there was an upside to this disaster: scientific advances in numerous fields due to what was learned about the eruption of Krakatoa, and what it said about natural processes everywhere. This scientific fallout from the event wasn't long in coming. Because of the speed of communication in the Victorian Age, thanks to the telegraph, and more rapid transit by train and ship because of which scientists could journey to the area where the eruption had occurred and observe the damage it caused and the characteristics of the volcano itself first-hand, data from the event and its aftermath began to flow into the world's universities and research institutions within a relatively short time, months as opposed to the literal centuries or even millennia it has taken for us to begin to understand what earlier eruptions of supervolcanoes like the Yellowstone Dome have done to the world. Some of that data has had to wait for more recent observations and the invention of the most modern scientific techniques and equipment for a complete understanding of their implications, but even in the closing decade of the 19th century, the international scientific community was gaining new and important insights about tectonic processes and their effects on the world thanks to the eruption of Krakatoa.Even so, Krakatoa, or rather Anak Krakatoa, "Child of Krakatoa," a volcano that has been growing for years on the site of the 1883 eruption of its parent, may have more lessons to teach us about our vulnerability to natural disasters and just how helpless we are to prevent the occurrence of many of them. Krakatoa has blasted our world in one incarnation after another, and will do so again. The only question is, "When?" And when it erupts, in all its awesome power, it could deliver a body-blow to our modern high-tech civilization, so dependent on intensive farming and high-tech gadgetry that can be bollixed and made useless by anything from eruptions on the Sun to local atmospheric effects, that would leave millions or even billions dead and the rest in serious trouble. Can we prepare against that? Probably not -- look at our difficulties in preparing for hurricanes and earthquakes, and cleaning up their damage afterwards. Those happen all the time. No one wants to spend the tax money for one-off, relatively rare events like the most massive solar flares, huge tsunamis, impacts of heavenly cannon-fire, and the eruption of supervolcanoes rather than than using the money to deal with the worst that the atmosphere and earthquake faults can deliver. And so we set ourselves up for disaster.
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  • Bibliovoracious
    January 1, 1970
    I learned about myself that I like science more than history. I would have said before I liked both equally. I think it's because people can be awful, and science is always awesome.There's a great deal of both in this book, with more than the first half of the book building a detailed picture of now-Indonesia as a Dutch colony, and the development of the science of vulcanology and plate tectonics, and much more. The social conditions at the time Krakatoa exploded, right at the beginn I learned about myself that I like science more than history. I would have said before I liked both equally. I think it's because people can be awful, and science is always awesome.There's a great deal of both in this book, with more than the first half of the book building a detailed picture of now-Indonesia as a Dutch colony, and the development of the science of vulcanology and plate tectonics, and much more. The social conditions at the time Krakatoa exploded, right at the beginning of a connected age, made the disaster one of the first global news stories. Also super neat to know that Edvard Munch's Scream was painted at the time of sunsets- when sunsets around the world were extra colourful and intense because of the ash from Krakatoa.
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  • CD
    January 1, 1970
    Dependable historical story telling can be a dry glass in a desert for many readers. Winchester is a very fine writer, fine to the point of absurdum with descriptions that sometime take him down a path that does not always work on the written page. Having heard him speak and listened to his reading of his works it both pushes my rating of this back to 3 stars and down to 3 stars at the same time.Nothing is left out it seems from this story, but where detail and richness of informatio Dependable historical story telling can be a dry glass in a desert for many readers. Winchester is a very fine writer, fine to the point of absurdum with descriptions that sometime take him down a path that does not always work on the written page. Having heard him speak and listened to his reading of his works it both pushes my rating of this back to 3 stars and down to 3 stars at the same time.Nothing is left out it seems from this story, but where detail and richness of information is lacking Winchester in few cases becomes overly brief. That is my one main criticism of his writing overall and I may be alone in thinking that but you can tell he wants to say more but the facts are not available. Sure, in this story the witnesses perished and details are drawn for certain portions from telegrams/wire reports from those a great distance and some who perished. Historically Winchester seems faithful and the storytelling suffers. In other circumstances the narrative becomes consumed by the details of vulcanology and what we know currently and what was believed or felt at the time of the incident in Java.Persevere in reading this book and it will improve and reward those who complete the tale. Winchesters style once appreciated for its superlative use of language will finally disappear behind the storytelling.
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  • Gary ONeill
    January 1, 1970
    This is a work of non-fiction about one of the hugest volcanic eruptions that has ever happened since there were humans on the planet. Krakatoa (between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia) erupted in 1883, a massive explosion that could be heard in Mauritius - 3000 kilometers away! The eruption and the resulting tidal wave killed 35000 people and it threw so much volcanic dust into the atmosphere that there were amazing sunsets for three years after the eruption.I found the book fascinati This is a work of non-fiction about one of the hugest volcanic eruptions that has ever happened since there were humans on the planet. Krakatoa (between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia) erupted in 1883, a massive explosion that could be heard in Mauritius - 3000 kilometers away! The eruption and the resulting tidal wave killed 35000 people and it threw so much volcanic dust into the atmosphere that there were amazing sunsets for three years after the eruption.I found the book fascinating. The writer, Simon Winchester, is such an excellent researcher and he has a lightness of touch that makes his work comfortable to read even when he is describing the technical side of volcanic science. In addition to the scientific information, Winchester writes about the human side of the disaster - how the Dutch and Indonesian people reacted to the event. He paints a fascinating picture of life in 'the Dutch East Indies.'I would recommend this book to anyone who is fascinated by the immense power of the forces at work below the surface of the Earth, and to anyone who enjoys colonial history.
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  • Lord Zion
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to know about Krakatoa. Instead, I learned about the author. I got half way through and realised that I was wasting my life. It was though he really wanted to write an autobiography but the publisher said "no, we want you to write about Krakatoa instead", so he sneaked his autobiography within the pages of this.If you want to know what Simon Winchester did for a lot of his life, read this.If you want to know why an island blew up, read something else.
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  • Bruce Hesselbach
    January 1, 1970
    One thing I can say about this book is that you have to read to page 227 before anybody dies. How the author can take one of the great calamities of the 19th Century and make it seem boring is a mystery to me, but he does it.
  • Mindy Kannon
    January 1, 1970
    Wow this book is too interesting.Love the science of volcanoes and geology!I must read if you are interested in the way the earth moves and how we are all globally connected!Super!
  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    The book did a nice job of explaining how often Krakatoa has exploded in history and the impacts this has made in the world. Interesting read.
  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    January 1, 1970
    This is not just about that famous volcano, Krakatoa, in Indonesia [near Java and Sumatra:]. The book consumed almost 400 pages because it likewise dealt with topics related to the volcano, and volcanoes in general.There were chapters about spices and the spice trade. Spices are the in thing at that time, and the area where Krakatoa was was where most of the spices were harvested at that time. Naturally, the Europeans competed with each other in this spice trade and somehow it was th This is not just about that famous volcano, Krakatoa, in Indonesia [near Java and Sumatra:]. The book consumed almost 400 pages because it likewise dealt with topics related to the volcano, and volcanoes in general.There were chapters about spices and the spice trade. Spices are the in thing at that time, and the area where Krakatoa was was where most of the spices were harvested at that time. Naturally, the Europeans competed with each other in this spice trade and somehow it was the Dutch who gained foothold in that part of the world where Krakatoa was.There were chapters also about flora and fauna. Some scientists of those days studied that part of the world and noticed that there seems ot be an invisible line separating islands there so that in one side of this imaginary line/boundary you can't find some plants and animals which can be found in the other side of this imaginary line.Later, and explanation was found. Plate tectonics and the continental drift. It turned out, there were really lines, i.e., tectonic plates have boundaries even if their boundaries may be hidden deep in the oceans. Billions of years ago, there was one great land mass in the entire world. Then it divided into several "plates" until the present land masses we know today. some of these plates push one another and form mountains like Mount Everest. But some plates are "softer" than others. And when a "soft" plate meets a "harder" one, the former has the tendency to dive under. It is in such a point where the most active and ruinous volcanoes are found[that is why there are so many volcanoes in this part of Asia, from Japan downwards to the Philippines and Indonesia. Soft plate meets a hard plate here, so there's the so-called "Ring of Fire" in this part of the world:]. Like Krakatoa.Krakatoa was said to have had violent explosions before 1883 but the evidence on this were scant. Before it's 1883 explosion, it was a big, island volcano. After it exploded, the entire island [except for a small part:] disappeared. It apparently was pulverized or was melted by the force of the explosion.The sounds created by the explosions were heard in Manila, Vietnam and even in that small island near Diego Garcia. It was said to be the loudest natural sound ever heard by human beings ever.Do you know also that that explosion contributed to the rise of Muslim fundamentalism? And hatred by some Muslims of non-muslims especially foreigners? Read the book to find out.
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  • Kyle Levenick
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn't do it. I couldn't finish this book.Go ahead and lambaste me for reviewing a book I couldn't finish, but you know how it goes: too many books to waste time reading bad ones.It has fascinating potential, it's been on my "to-read" list for almost two years at this point. I couldn't wait to crack it open. Boy was I immediately disappointed. I like a long walk in a book, and Winchester points to the setting sun, whispers "we'll get there, I promise," and takes you b I couldn't do it. I couldn't finish this book.Go ahead and lambaste me for reviewing a book I couldn't finish, but you know how it goes: too many books to waste time reading bad ones.It has fascinating potential, it's been on my "to-read" list for almost two years at this point. I couldn't wait to crack it open. Boy was I immediately disappointed. I like a long walk in a book, and Winchester points to the setting sun, whispers "we'll get there, I promise," and takes you by the hand for a mosey the long way around. He seems like a great guy, a literal knight in khaki armor. He takes it easy, helping you step over new ideas while exercising a knack for anecdotal tangentiality. But every so subtly, it slips though. Something isn't right here. A description of plantation life is accompanied by a whistful sigh. An aside describing a native name not sounding "as nice." Before you know it, the return path is obscured by previous topics that were carelessly tossed aside and Winchester is holding you by the cheeks, forcing your gaze forward while chanting "I know what I'm doing. Look at me."Miles begin to pass like inches, connections are made between the apocalypse and the rise of Islam (but he's just telling you what he heard from a friend), and the more he regales about the efficiency of Dutch colonial administration, the tighter you see his khaki shorts become.When I awoke, I had no recollection of my escape and no desire to question it. I was free of the imperialphilic spectre's grasp, for now. There would be others, and the basaltic ruins of Anak Krakatoa are surely littered with the remains of others, dizzied and left for sacrifice at the altar of Winchester.But really, this book is far too saturated with outright dismissals of native culture, knowledge and history, while favoring a near masturbatory praise for colonialism. Ironically, while Winchester blasts the Javanese poet Ranggawarsita for being an apparently sycophant to his patrons, Winchester's Krakatoa comes off as a desperate plea for the ghosts of his imperial heroes to glide down from heaven and cradle him in their arms, cooing and gently reminding him of the time when things were better.
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