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No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado Del Ruiz Paperback – February 19, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060958901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060958909
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fight currently raging within the volcanological community, sketched by the discrepancies between Bruce's work and Stanley Williams and Fen Montaigne's Surviving Galeras (reviewed below), concerns what is known about predicting eruptions, and particularly about Galeras when it blew, and why nine people died in that eruption (see PW, Book News, Feb. 12). In Bruce's harrowing depiction of the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz eruption, which killed 23,000 people, scientists and survivors describe bureaucratic foolishness, scientific discovery and human strife. In her presentation of the 1993 eruption of Galeras, another Colombian volcano, numerous interviews illuminate further human folly, and particularly Williams's pariah status among geologists. Seismologist Bernard Chouet's testimony discredits Williams's assertion that there was no warning of the eruption. Previously, Chouet had successfully predicted two eruptions from seismographic patterns also visible when Galeras erupted. While Williams says this was never brought to his attention, Bruce notes that leading a team into an active volcano without checking available data hardly seems responsible scientific practice. Chouet claims he presented his prediction technique, with Williams present, in 1991. Further, expedition members contend that, despite Galeras's signs of activity, Williams ignored advice to shorten the visit. One survivor says Williams took no safety precautions and mocked his colleagues who wore hard hats. Scientist and journalist Bruce traces the fascinating recent history of Colombian volcanoes and the scientific community's politics, wherein intellectual property generates fame and near-fortune, in an insightful, spellbinding account. Photos and illus. (Apr. 2)Forecast: Bruce's 11-city tour, participation in Columbia University's Earth Science Colloquium in March and the much-publicized Galeras debacle promise big sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1993, a Colombian volcano named Galeras erupted, killing six scientists and three tourists inside its rim and severely injuring the expedition's leader, eminent vulcanalogist Williams. Could this tragedy have been avoided? Could the eruption have been predicted? Two new books debate those questions from opposite ends of the spectrum. Williams offers a firsthand account of the disaster, which traumatized him physically and psychologically, while Bruce, a science writer with a master's degree in geology, provides an investigative journalist's perspective. Arguing that there is no method of accurately predicting eruptions, Williams defends his actions, and his book reads as a partial apology to the nine who died and to all who were injured. Bruce, who also discusses a 1985 eruption at another Colombian volcano that left 23,000 people dead (studied in a referreed scientific publication by Williams), writes in a more sensational style, accusing Williams of not being a "team player" (for years the scientist claimed he was the only survivor despite evidence to the contrary) and ignoring a seismologist's research indicating that Galeras was ready to explode. However, both authors agree that Marta Calvache and Patty Mothes, two Colombian geologists who ran into the volcano to rescue people, were heroes at Galeras. Williams acknowledges that he owes his life to Calvache's actions. Perhaps the whole story still is not known, but both books read together make a try. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Jean E. Crampon, Science & Engineering Lib., Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The book tells a very good story, and is hard to put down.
Gary Braham
Ms. Bruce's riveting accounts of the eruption of Galeras and Nevado del Ruiz kept me glued to my recliner!
Emilie Lorditch
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in geology, volcanoes, and anyone else.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By susan boundy-sanders on April 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm writing to supplement my husband's review (chris sanders). He was Stan Williams' colleague and friend, was on the side of Galeras when it blew, and was Arizona State University's spokesman for Stan and the eruption -- and Chris backs Victoria Bruce's account unreservedly as the accurate version of the event.
My addition is the perspective of a person near, but not central, to the story. I think Victoria Bruce has shown extremely clear insight into what's important about the story, and about the character of the players.
From my perspective, Victoria has done science a tremendous service in shining a spotlight on Stan Williams' behavior. She's brought to light a personality type that, unfortunately, has all too safe a harbor in the scientific community. For reasons that are far too complex to discuss here, huge egos and forceful personalities have too easy a time dominating the scientific community. No Apparent Danger shows just one of the consequences of the actions of just one ego-driven scientist. I personally would be very glad if this book helps clear the paths for the many brilliant, innovative, hard-working, honest scientists who choose to spend their time expanding knowledge rather than promoting themselves and stealing others' ideas.
Like Chris, I was also very grateful to read Victoria's descriptions of the Colombian scientists. Fernando Munoz is one of our dearest friends. I had always known and admired his passion for saving lives in Colombia; Victoria's book provided details of his story that help me understand that passion better. Victoria has recognized rightly that he, Marta Calvache, and the other Colombian scientists truly are larger than life. I've always seen it -- now I know better how they came to be that way.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Habiger on December 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1993 a horrible disaster struck the geology community. On January 14 of that year, 13 volcanologists were on a workshop fieldtrip inside the caldera of Galeras, a volcano in southern Columbia, when it erupted killing 6 of the scientists and 3 local tourists. This tragic event shocked and stunned the geological community.
No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado Del Ruiz written by Victory Bruce has taken a critical look these two volcanic tragedies that struck Columbia.
Victoria writes in a wonderfully easy to read narrative, that grabs your attention from the beginning. She lays out the events of the two volcanic eruptions in the form of a crime scene, where you know the final outcome, but not the events and facts leading up to the crime. She leads the reader through the multitude of facts and eyewitness accounts of these two eruptions to give a clear understanding of what happened, and the mistakes that were made.
The book was inspired by the tragedy at Galeras, but to understand the tragedy there, she takes us back 8 years to the eruption at Nevado del Ruiz that caused a lahar to burry the town of Armero, killing 23,000 people. Here we meet Marta Calvache, a Columbian geologist who plays important roles in both events. Marta and her colleagues are a group of bright, young Columbian scientists who are given the responsibility to interpret the activity at Nevado del Ruiz, a task that they admit is over their heads. The Columbian scientists seek out the best international help they can get to help them interpret the volcano, and do their best to warn the government of the danger the volcano poses. In the end, their dire warnings are ignored, and the most tragic volcanic eruption of the twentieth century occurs.
Read more ›
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By bobby on April 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
No Apparent Danger is a stunning example of careful and diligent attention to details of the horrible human suffering due to natural disasters in Colombia in the last decade and a half. It explains the events through the words both published and from interviews of dozens of people who were involved.
The book reads in a wonderful, descriptive way. From the earnest attempts of the scientists/engineers to understand the signals from Nevado Del Ruiz-to the flight from Arbolito during the eruption-to the devastation of Armero, the reader is left profoundly saddened. The idea that in 1985, lack and hindrance of scientific support from the government of Colombia was responsible for the death of many thousands of people is appalling.
Strong people of Colombia are introduced to the reader who were coffee growers, engineers, and scientists all working to understand these disasters and to form plans and procedures needed to prevent loss of life and property. These people become real in the book because of the description of their lives, personalities, work, and in some cases, their heroism.
The story of the explosion of Galeras is rich in detail because of the view of people who witnessed it from different places. The confusion in the city of Pasto, the anxiety and concern of the people hiking the flanks of the mountain, the agony of death and injury in the volcano, the search and rescue for surveyors. And the almost comical event where a scientist, TV cameraman, and reporter ended in a heap at the summit.
I am moved by this book, which has described all of this and much more. I am pleased to know of strong, intelligent, and caring people who acted in brave ways in Colombia. I am pleased to read about the women who are dedicated scientists in Colombia and I salute the two women who by example (by running in to the volcano) started the rescue of the injured. It's remarkable.
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