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Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801896927
ISBN-10: 9780801896927
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Editorial Reviews


If you want to learn more about these disasters than just what's in the news headlines, this is the book for you.

(Ian Paulsen Birdbooker Report)

During a time when global climate change is becoming an increasing concern and details of global catastrophes arrive on our computer screens as they unfold elsewhere, Prothero’s book is a useful guide to the mechanisms and effects of some of nature’s most frightening events.

(Brian Switek Laelaps blog, Wired.com)

Fascinating reading, if somewhat terrifying... Prothero explains the geologic and meteorological forces behind disasters, emphasizing the science with examples of real-world events, giving us a three-dimensional view of not only the natural processes involved but the human and monetary toll, as well.

(Libbie Martin Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

This book... has the bases covered. Prothero is an engaging writer.

(Natural Hazards Observer)



About the Author

Donald R. Prothero is a professor of geology at Occidental College and coeditor or author of many books, including Horns, Tusks, and Flippers: The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals and The Evolution of Artiodactyls, both published by Johns Hopkins.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (March 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780801896927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801896927
  • ASIN: 0801896924
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Catastrophes! Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters By Donald R. Prothero

“Catastrophes!" is a first-rate look at natural disasters from a more paleontological approach. Inspired by the catastrophe of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, acclaimed science author and educator Donald R. Prothero provides not only a fascinating look at catastrophes by category but shares many stories of the scientists and people affected by them. This captivating 360-page book includes the following twelve chapters: 1. Earthquakes The Earth in Upheaval, 2. Tsunamis The Sea Rises Up, 3. Volcanoes Hell’s Cauldron, 4. Landslides Gravity Always Wins, 5. Floods Raging Waters, 6. Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Typhoons Nature on the Rampage, 7. Tornadoes Funnels of Death 8 Blizzards White Death, 9. Ice Ages Frozen Planet, 10. Greenhouse Planet Too Hot to Handle?, 11. Mass Extinctions When Life Nearly Died, and 12. Can We Survive Nature—and Our Own Folly?

1. Well-written, accessible, page turner of a science book. Mixes in historical narratives with science, fun and enlightening.
2. A fascinating topic in the hands of a subject matter expert. With a Ph.D. in geological sciences and authorship of many books and scientific papers, Prothero has earned my trust as a high-quality science writer.
3. Great use of visual materials. Plenty of charts and photos.
4. A solid introductory history to modern geology.
5. Goes through the birth of modern seismology while narrating historical earthquakes.
6. Throughout the book myths are debunked. “Many people believe in the myth of earthquake weather. Supposedly, great earthquakes happen during unusually hot days.
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Format: Hardcover
Since the dawn of human history, catastrophes like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and blizzards have been seen by many as the capricious acts of a wrathful Deity bent on punishing humanity. Even today, most might ascribe such disasters as the work of Divine Providence run amok, instead of belonging to an ongoing series of naturally occurring geological and meteorological events. "Catastrophes! Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and other Earth-Shattering Disasters" is a revealing, often insightful, look at these events, as seen from the eyes of distinguished vertebrate paleobiologist Donald Prothero, and one whose unique perspective comes just weeks after the horrific Sendai, Japan earthquake and tsunami. Prothero discusses not only the natural history of these disasters, but, all too often, cites how governments and people have often ignored, at great peril to themselves, credible warnings by scientists regarding the potential dangers posed by such disasters. Indeed, this isn't only true in classic examples as government and public responses to imminent volcanic eruptions and equations, but even more relatively mundane disasters, such as landslides, which Prothero discusses at length, even when such discussions may be far less riveting than his accounts of the A. D. 79 eruption of the volcano Vesuvius, which wiped out the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii, or the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and yet, discussions worth noting by readers interested in potential lapses in public policy with respect to dealing with the potential for such disasters.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
When I visited Yellowstone two summers ago, the immense "supervolcano" percolating under the national park was a near-constant topic of conversation at the nightly campfire lectures. A 2005 BBC/Discovery drama was the reason why. Inspired by the real existence of the Yellowstone Caldera - which shaped the region through numerous eruptions over the past 17 million years - the sensational disaster yarn imagined what might happen if the huge volcano erupted today, highlighting the fact that the park's various geysers, fumaroles, and mud pots are signs of continuing volcanic activity.

The last major eruption of the Yellowstone volcano was about 640,000 years ago. There is no indication that it is set to go off again anytime soon, but the possibility clearly captured the public's imagination. Such an expression of natural force would be simultaneously captivating and terrifying, just as earthquakes, blizzards, tornadoes, landslides, floods, tsunamis and other phenomena are when they strike. These disasters are at the heart of Donald Prothero's new book Catastrophes!.

As the book's epigraph by Will Durant states, "Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice." Who better, then, to guide readers through the details of destructive forces of nature than a geologist? "I've been teaching about these events in my introductory physical geology courses for more than 25 years now," Prothero writes in the preface, and the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami that struck on December 26, 2004 provided the impetus to take the lessons to a wider audience.

Catastrophes! is divided into two unequal parts.
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