This book describes two millennia of major earthquakes and their effects on societies around the world; the ways in which cultures have mythologized earthquakes through religion, the arts and popular culture; and the science of measuring, understanding and trying to predict earthquakes. According to Charles Darwin, a great earthquake in Chile in 1835 was the single most interesting event of his entire five-year journey around the globe on HMS Beagle.
Despite advances in both science and engineering, and improved disaster preparedness, earthquakes continue to cause immense loss of life and damage. The Haiti earthquake of 2010 took some quarter of a million lives. No one will ever forget the catastrophic tsunami unleashed in 2011 by a magnitude-9 earthquake off the east coast of Japan – a crisis described by Japan’s prime minister as the most disastrous national event since the atomic bomb strikes of 1945. Tokyo was largely unaffected in 2011, unlike in 1703, 1855 and 1923, when earthquakes ravaged the capital. How long will it be before the next big Tokyo earthquake?
Written by a highly experienced science writer, journalist and scholar, Earthquake will appeal as much to general readers of popular science as it will to experts in many fields.
'Studying earthquakes is somewhat like the apocryphal medical school dean who tells students: "Half of what we will teach you in the next four years is wrong. The problem is that we don't know which half." Robinson conveys this spirit in a lively and well-written introduction to earthquakes and how people discovered, struggle to understand, and try to figure out how to deal with this dramatic, destructive, and still poorly understood phenomenon.'
– Seth Stein, seismologist and author of Disaster Deferred: How New Science Is Changing Our View of Earthquake Hazards in the Midwe
Andrew Robinson is the author of 25 books on the arts and sciences, including the prize-winning Earthshock: Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes and Other Forces of Nature, The Story of Measurement and The Scientists: An Epic of Discovery (as editor). He also writes for the science journals, The Lancet, Nature and New Scientist. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.