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A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate Paperback – July 27, 2004
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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
Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into 3 sections. The first retells Californias environmental history from the era of Junipero Serra's mission system right up to our own freeway system. The middle section deals with the fundamentals of plate tectonics. But it's that 3rd section that looks forward to (shudder) a hypothetical eruption of the Hayward Fault in 2005 that is most gripping. Yikes.
Sayonara to a great environmentalist and author.
This is a fictional scenario of course, yet it leans heavily on what could be. The events are based on long conversations the author had with experts in the earthquake field. Anyone who has read Cadillac Desert knows the power of Marc Reisner's ability to analyze and explore a topic.
The only "con" for me was the book was too short! It was so gripping I couldn't put it down but I still wanted more. A book double or triple the size would've been fine.
Please also note, that the book is being published 3 years after Mr. Reisner's death. As such, it does not seem the book was in it's absolute final form prior to being released. There are only three chapters and they don't seem quite balanced. He also launches into his scenario (the last half of the book) rather abruptly, requiring the reader to be alert. I didn't mark it down in terms of a rating as I was expecting this (and the quality of the material is high enough to overlook this oddity) but I mention it here to warn the reader.
Still, while it lacks in polish is more than compensated for in it's urgency.Read more ›
The book is organized into three parts: Part 1 summarizes the colonization history of southern California, L.A., and San Fransciso, explaining how the cities came to be and how half of the western population somewhat suprisingly now resides therein; Part 2 briefly discusses the basics of plate tectonics, earthquakes, and the numerous geographic and geologic hazards unique to California; and Part 3 is a fictional diary of the author's day set in the near future (February 28, 2005), the day a large quake occurs on the Hayward Fault on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay. Parts 1 and 2 are both informative and well written, but it is Part 3 that is particularly disturbing; the entire scenario is drawn from experiences of past earthquakes and the author's local knowledge, and the description is quite plausible. The consequences of such an earthquake are difficult to envision, but I believe that you will find Mr. Reisner's fictional treatment really hits the mark.
I read one of his previous books, "Cadillac Desert" and found it politically one-sided and tough to finish. This book is different.Read more ›
Reisner doesn't reiterate ideas from Cadillac Desert, but rather infuses his understanding of the interaction of water, geology, and people into this new area. I learned a lot; for example, I didn't have a full appreciation of the precarious nature of the Delta and its role in supplying the southern half of the state with water.
The book was written pre-9/11, and one cannot help nodding bitterly at the accuracy of Reisner's descriptions of public reaction to, say, the deaths of thousands of citizens.
It's a terrible loss for us that Reisner won't write another book, and indeed didn't flesh this one out as thoroughly as his presentation in Cadillac Desert. As an example, the scope and inadequacies of legal changes to building permitting after the 1971 San Fernando earthquake could use further elaboration. Such omissions don't distract from the book--indeed, they may enhance its readibility--but I'm sure had he time, Reisner would have delved in more detail into many subjects. Nonetheless, this book should be a startling and resource-rich guide for the cataclysmic event that is guaranteed to happen in the near future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've spent all but five years of my 50 years in the Bay Area. In high school I faced up to the fact that a major earthquake would happen in my lifetime in the Bay Area. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Keith Bramstedt
A fascinating and frightening book, especially if you live in California. The book covers the stories of Los Angeles and San Francisco, from origin to today. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Leo Szilard
For all fans of Marc Reisner who mourn that he died too soon, this is a too-short but tantalizing glimpse at what his next book would have been. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Anita Loos
Since I am not a California, I didn't have much interest in this book. A friend of San Jose in California recommended it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by countess
Excellent and very readable companion to Mr. Reisner's "Cadillac Desert."Published 13 months ago by Barb Reader
I was more interested in "water usage & consumption" dynamics which were only marginally covered--however, a good summary of seismological issues.Published 14 months ago by William Millsap
Excellent book. Mailed it to my son in California when I was done with it.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer