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A Guide to the End of the World: Everything You Never Wanted to Know Hardcover – August 8, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0192802972 ISBN-10: 0192802976 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (August 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192802976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192802972
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,966,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


`A very enjoyable if somewhat frightening read' Latest Homes 14/05/2002

`each chapter does cover the current state of knowledge with impressive thoroughness, often backed by striking facts and figures' New Scientist 13/04/2002

`I would heartily recommend Bill McGuire's potted histroy of the Earth and its many mechanicanisms of destruction' 16/04/2002

`The book is pacy and terrifying' Literary Review 01/04/2002

`a convincing, gripping and, at times. terrifying, case' TNT Magazine 18/03/02

`If you like self mutilation, this book will make a humorous light read at bedtime' Front Magazine, 01/04/2002

`This book is racy, pacy, opinionated, sassy and fun [...] an ideal holiday read, in fact' Geoscientist

About the Author

Bill McGuire is Professor of Geohazards and Director of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre, University College, London. He has worked on volcanoes all over the world, including Mount Etna, Rabaul, and Mount Pinatubo, is a member of the Association of British Sciences Writers, and a regular contributor to radio, television, and the press. He recently presented his own Radio 4 series on the forces of nature, and was featured in two Horizon programs as the leading British expert on volcanoes and mega-tsunami ('tidal waves'); these documentaries scored the highest ratings of the year on BBC2 (6 million).

Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There's a lot to worry about here, and frankly I'm worried. The main disaster that I didn't know about until I read this intriguing little book is the volcanic "super-eruption." Take your standard volcanic blast and multiply it by something like a thousand and one begins to get the picture. Not only that, but a super-eruption isn't necessarily going to happen around the old fault lines or Vulcan sites. No, a super-eruption with enough power to usher in a "volcanic winter" can happen suddenly without warning virtually anywhere.

The really scary thing about super-eruptions is that not only can't they be predicted, they can't be prevented. In this sense they are worse than an earth-crossing asteroid or unleashed Oort Cloud comets. We might be able to see a meteor coming our way and with current technology nudge it off its course or blast it into smaller pieces, but there is absolutely nothing we can do about a super-eruption. Even if the super-eruption takes place halfway around the world, its effects, possibly leading to a civilization-ending volcanic winter, will be felt everywhere. With the social disruption, the disease, and the cold and starvation, the living (to recall a phrase from the Cold War) may very well envy the dead.

McGuire, who is Benfield Greig Professor of Geophysical Hazards at University College London, recalls for our delectation, "perhaps the greatest volcanic explosion ever" that took place at Toba in northern Sumatra 73,500 years ago. It qualified as a Volcanic Explosivity Index 8 (VEI 8) event, which means it was about one thousand times as powerful as the VEI 5 1980 blast at Mount St. Helens.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jerald R Lovell on May 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dr. Bill McGuire, a volcanologist by training, and a Professor of Geophysical Hazards at the University College in London, England, is a man worth one's attention when it comes to discussing massive, if unlikely, disasters.

McGuire has been criticized by some as a self-aggrandizing Cassandra. This envy-based criticism becomes invalid as one reads this and other works by him on the such subjects as mega-tsunamis, supereruptions, climate change, (both warmer and colder), giant earthquakes, impacts of asteroids and comets, breakdown of ocean currents, and like matters. McGuire has the unique capability of mastering all of these subjects and presenting them as a cohesive whole. That is what he has done in this book.

Make no mistake, McGuire is not talking about the planet being blown to smithereens. Rather, he addresses the effect of events that have occurred before, and will occur again, in the history of our planet that could lead to the end of civilization as we presently know it.

By way of example, considered as a whole, an 8.7 earthquake in the South Sandwich Islnds off Antarctica would have little effect on most of the world , but such an event centered in the Tokyo-Yokohama area could very easily lead to a collapse of most of the world's economies, widespread famine and warfare, etc.

The same is even more true of the impact of a one-kilometer asteroid with the Earth, a long-term change in climate, a Yellowstone-sized supervolcano going off, and the like. McGuire accurately points out that, should any of these dire events come to pass, there is not much that could be done except to endure the consequences. However, early detection of those events that could be forecast, and subsequent preparation, would help immensely to soften the blow.
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. P. R. Lewis on June 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
In his personal quest to frighten us to death, McGuire has penned yet another doomsday book. With its superficial air of science, it presents a quite bogus picture of nature. Disasters of natural origin are a fact of life for those who live next to a volcano, or in an earthquake zone, but neither apply to the UK, so you can relax. So he tries to spin the argument into super-volcanoes, giant landslides, forgetting that they are infrequent on a geological timescale, and infinitesimal on a human time-frame. Not to be out-done, he then spins out the familiar guff about global warming, and tries to tell us that the debate is over: "there is absolutely no doubt that the Earth is warming up". I have news for McGuire: the earth is currently cooling, and none of the disasters predicted by the IPCC and other irresponsible bodies have yet to occur. Eat your words McGuire, and can one expect an apology for your wild prognostications? He even copies the now totally discredited hockey stick curve of Mann, which was made by deliberately manipulating data to eliminate the Medieval Warm period and the little Ice Age. This is fraud on a grand scale, and McGuire sucks it up like a dummy. He should consult the many interesting emails exposed by Climategate. This book is junk science at its worst, and avoided. A much more balanced presentation is given by Ian Plimer in Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science, and also by Carter in Climate: The Counter-Consensus - A Palaeoclimatologist Speaks (Independent Minds).
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