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A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate Paperback


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A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate + Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142003832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003831
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 6.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

California's vulnerability to earthquakes, although internalized by its citizens as a dread of the Big One, seems to be virtually ignored as developers continue to build in all directions, even atop faults and landslide-prone mountains. This narrative by the late author combines a history of Los Angeles' and San Francisco's growth with a lurid scenario of what the San Francisco Bay Area will look like after the Pacific plate lurches northward a few feet. Reisner ends the book imagining a collapsed Bay Bridge; a destroyed Oakland and UC-Berkeley campus; a burning Richmond; and serial destruction of BART, highways, aqueducts, and airports. It is likely the author planned to write a like scenario for L.A.'s day of doom, but even so, Reisner's work of warning effectively reminds us of the vast infrastructure required to sustain these two megalopolises. As befits the author of Cadillac Desert (1986), Reisner highlights the vulnerability of water supplies, a point that will attract environmentalists to this work, as well as anyone who just likes a scary story. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Reisner manages the nearly impossible feat of explaining geopolitical history, hydro-engineering, plate tectonics and comparative seismology in an engaging, delightfully literate fashion. This important book will appeal to many, including those outside the Golden State. Environmentalists will naturally go for it, but Reisner's witty, concise prose will attract general readers, too." —Publishers Weekly



"This posthumous work by the author of the award-winning Cadillac Desert is a fitting tribute to his environmental concerns and the power of his writing." —Library Journal



"Nothing Stephen King has ever written is nearly as frightening." —The San Diego Union-Tribune

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By RxD4 on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Clearly, the first part of this book was based on research done for "Cadillac Desert" and focuses on the history of growth and water supplies for San Francisco and LA. However, the second and third sections are new: the second section covers the vulnerability of these water supplies to earthquakes (many earthquake faults cross where the water supply lines are built, The third section is a quite realistic scenario of what would happen in the Bay Area in the event of a 7.2 (I think) earthquake. The book is very readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Swubird on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
A dangerous Place should be a wake up call for anybody who lives in earthquake country, or for that matter, anybody who is interested in these catastrophic upheavals. I live in southern, California, so I know what it's like to wake up in the predawn hours with the feeling that the earth is splitting apart. I assure you it's an unforgettable sensation.

But southern California isn't the main focus of Marc Reisner's book. Instead, he takes us to the San Francisco bay area with it's own unique earthquake problems. A lot of faults underlay the bay area, including the pesky Hayward fault and, according to Reisner, they offer the potential for devastation almost beyond comprehension. First, he gives a wonderful history of the area--the gold rush--the silver rush, and, of course Reisner's personal favorite, the every lasting effort to bring water to the area. In the process, he briefly discusses the first environmental case won in the U.S. courts. It involved the use of "hydraulicking," a process that caused unbelievable environmental damage. You'll have to read the book for that one. I found it interesting.

Towards the end of the book, Reisner plays out the worst-case scenario for San Franciscans--THE BIG ONE. And I'm not talking about California falling off into the Pacific Ocean. I'm talking about the collateral damage of a major quake in the heavily populated San Francisco region. Remember reading about the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco? Or what about the so-called World Series earthquake that rattled San Francisco in 1989? That was a hair raiser. Well those were just appetizers compared to what may come in the future. But, again, it wouldn't be fair to give it all away in this short review.
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By Brian Gould on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One wonders what this book could have been had Mr. Reisner lived to complete it, but under the circumstances it is a quick but worthy look the subject. The reader must make allowances for the passage of time, and take in the big picture. It would be a good book for students not yet ready for the plunge into Cadillac Desert, as well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm getting really tired of writing these reviews on all the books I choose to read. "It was very good should be enough words!"
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Format: Paperback
This book makes the point that it isn't earthquakes alone that cause life on California soil to be precarious. It's the fact that so much basic and necessary infrastructure crosses over or has been built directly on top of active fault lines, particularly in the Bay Area and specifically the fault line most likely to produce a 7.0 or greater earthquake. In addition are numerous possibilities for fires to erupt in the immediate aftermath of such a quake, just when access to water supplies may be drastically affected or the supplies themselves reduced.

Whatever quarrels one might have with the author's decision to create a fictionalized account of an earthquake on that scale, and despite the disappointment that he did not live to complete this book as he might have wished, he's given us a persuasive collection of information that should register loud & clear on any reader's internal Richter scale.
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