Customer Review

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not with a bang but a shambles, July 22, 2003
This review is from: Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded (Hardcover)
On reading the draft of "Krakatoa". Winchester's editors and publishers should have said "Interesting notes, Simon. What kind of book are you going to write from them?" Because they didn't do so, we are left with this self-indulgent ramble of a book, lacking in structure or a decent narrative. Winchester clearly hasn't decided if he wants this to be a "Connections"-style run through everything that can be remotely connected with Krakatoa, a serious look at the political consequences of natural catastrophes, an argument that Krakatoa somehow founded the global village, a scientific explanation of volcanic phenomena, or yet another type of book. As a result, he tries to do it all--and fails on all counts. For a ramble through tangents, it is marginally informative and occasionally wrong (e.g. the father of time zones was Sanford Fleming, not Charles Dowd). The attempt to trace Indonesian fundamentalism back to Krakatoa is reductionist in the extreme. The technology story is patchy and repeatedly dropped. Even the science is not precise: a few pages after pedantically asserting that Krakatoa did not create tidal waves (because, you know, these sea waves had nothing to do with the moon), Winchester then refers to...tidal waves.
I'm not giving this one star for the simple reason that it did manage to keep me (barely) engaged all the way through to the end. The factoids were interesting enough, and Winchester is clearly interested in what he's doing. It's just a pity that someone didn't send him back to the keyboard for another 6 months to produce one good book rather than fragments of 4 or 5.
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Location: Applesauce, MO

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