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Quakeland: On the Road to America's Next Devastating Earthquake Hardcover – August 29, 2017
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Early Praise for Quakeland
“That fear you feel? It's intended... Quakeland seeks to rattle us free of the ignorance, uncertainty and short memory that have paralyzed plans for prevention and survival.”
“Miles’s treatment of earthquake mechanics is clear and crisp... Does she succeed in shaking us out of our complacency? I will confess that, although I don’t live in a seismic hot zone, the day I finished reading “Quakeland” I found myself in a grocery store stocking up on bottled water.”
—Wall Street Journal
“an earthquake-themed road trip that is popular science in the Mary Roach mold: the writer as intrepid explorer of science and amiable, wisecracking proxy for the lay reader.”
"fascinating and frightening... a startling reality check."
—Christian Science Monitor
“Thanks largely to Miles’s conversational, somehow cheery writing style, I was riveted throughout and heartily recommend this book to people living everywhere. For policymakers, Quakeland should be required reading.”
“[Quakeland] takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy... a engaging read.”
“Quakeland is everything a popular science book should be: well-researched, anecdotal, sometimes humorous, and easily understood.”
"Quakeland is a mesmerizing, eye-opening read—not only for those interested in science but for anyone who wants to be better informed about these enigmatic phenomena.”
“Engrossing, timely, thoroughly researched… Smart, compelling, and fearless in its embrace of science, Quakeland is full of fascinating people imparting big truths. We ignore their knowledge at our peril.”
“Accessible... Readers interested in the history of plate tectonics, seismic risk, and our society’s vulnerability would likely enjoy...”
“Journalist Kathryn Miles charms and entertains as she crisscrosses the US, talks with experts, draws deft profiles of scientists and engineers and citizens, heads deep into mines or the NYC subway system and ultimately makes clear that earthquakes are the least trackable natural disaster and are NOT just a problem for San Franciscans… And somehow she does it with a light touch, though any homeowners will be sure to check up on their insurance plan right after reading it....
“A wide-ranging account of earthquakes, the least understood of natural disasters, with vivid stories of the havoc they create and a warning about what will someday happen in the United States… readable and engaging—not to mention eye-opening, as the author delivers a firm warning to policymakers as well as individual citizens.”
"Mixing geological primer with apocalyptic warning, Miles makes clear “how fragile—and volatile—the ground beneath our feet really is.”
"It would be hard to imagine a more vividly readable extended warning than this book by Kathryn Miles, but Quakeland makes one conclusion all but inescapable: nobody’s listening."
—Open Letters Monthly
“Quakeland by Kathryn Miles scared the hell out of me. If you think earthquakes happen only in California, you need to read this book. What an eye opener! Based on the latest unimpeachable and carefully sourced scientific research, this book lays out not only the extreme danger of massive quakes in unexpected places (like the Northeast, Memphis, and Salt Lake City) but also documents the crazy things we are doing that are vastly increasing the frequency and threat of earthquakes. Well-written, gripping, fascinating, harrowing—Quakeland is a book we all need to read, if only to know how to survive when the big one hits.“
--Douglas Preston, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story
“This book is as terrifying as it is enthralling. With eye-opening historical context, Kathryn Miles describes the surprisingly wide scope of seismic hazards, the frightening deficiencies of our infrastructure, and the people striving to protect us all. Quakeland is an urgent call to action, one that we would be witless to ignore.” --Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us From Missiles to the Moon to Mars
“With seismic prose and John McPhee's gift for translating science with metaphor, Kathryn Miles makes you wonder at the tremendous forces continuously shaping our landscape. You need not live near a fault line (spoiler: you probably do) to enjoy this well-reported, entertaining foray into the scientific subculture of earthquakes. Miles is sparring with Mary Roach for top spot on my science bookshelf.”
--Kim Cross, New York Times best-selling author of What Stands in a Storm
“Full of wit and wisdom, Quakeland takes readers on a journey into what for most of us is an unknown world—the planet beneath our feet. Read this book and you will return from the unknown not only informed and entertained, but even more in awe of the world than you might already have been.”
--Paul Bogard, author of The Ground Beneath Us
“Quakeland was a mesmerizing companion on a trip I took to the Northwest. It's a revelation about the treachery of the crust beneath your feet. This could be the most important book you ever read.”
--Alanna Mitchell, author of Sea Sick
Praise for Superstorm
"Superstorm reads like the script of a blockbuster movie, transforming that Halloween storm into a nightmarish monster come to life. She provides horrifying vignettes of the storm's many personal tragedies." —Washington Post
"Wise and harrowing." —The Associated Press
"Fascinating...Meticulous...Heartbreaking...Miles's account--this year's Five Days at Memorial--is an important record for future planners and a gripping read." —Library Journal (starred review)
"Deeply reported and richly detailed narrative...A masterful job of telling the human tale of the storm." —Miami Herald
"Explains how a storm so strong it filled the windows of the International Space Station managed to catch the nation flat-footed." —New York Post
"[A] wide-angle, ticktock account of the massive Atlantic storm system that slammed the Eastern Seaboard on Oct. 29, 2012." —Newsday
"Thrilling...Even for those of us who have heard countless hurricane stories, Superstorm, is a valuable addition. It goes beyond the scary radar screens and harrowing photos of the aftermath to the ongoing, massive problems of predicting and surviving such storms." —Tampa Bay Times
"Deftly describes the intricacies of meteorology, government bureaucracy and maritime travel while weaving together several narrative strands into a compelling tapestry." —Roanoke Times
About the Author
KATHRYN MILES is an acclaimed journalist and writer-in-residence for Green Mountain College, as well as a faculty member for Chatham University’s MFA program. With a BA in Philosophy from St. Louis University and a PhD in English from the University of Delaware, Miles is also a scholar-in-residence for the Maine Humanities Council and a member of the Terrain.org editorial board. Her work has appeared in The Best American Essays, Popular Mechanics, Outside, and The New York Times.
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Top customer reviews
Kathryn Miles's zeal for the subject really comes through, and honestly it's pretty infectious. The book is well referenced (sources are at the end) and those who like to follow up (like me!) will be kept busy with those sources for awhile. It's all good stuff.
I did note some errors in facts (the Ramapo Fault Zone that crosses New Jersey and New York for example, is in fact, well known) and some that disappointingly show the crisis in copy-editing from the newspaper side of things has moved into book publishing. These are why I didn't rate the book a 5.
Here he was, camping with his family in an area that had been hit by a killer earthquake in his time. It was memorable.
Across the road was the canyon wall that caused the country's largest landslide ; it had buried nineteen people.
The first chapter of Quakeland recounts the story of a family, just like my husband's, who had gone camping in Yellowstone. The author takes us through their day, searching for the 'right' camping spot, setting up camp, and getting ready for bed. And then we are taken through the horrendous experience the campers endured when the earthquake collapsed the mountain side, sloshed the lake back and forth, creating winds so strong it ripped the clothing off campers, and then deluged the area with a wall of water that drove a stick into a camper's knee socket. Afterwards the lake was 22 feet higher.
It's enough to make me grateful my folks never took me out West camping.
Quakeland is full of stories that will send shivers up your spine. Not only because naturally occurring fault lines that transverse our country cause quakes, which in our ignorance we have built upon--cities like Memphis and Salt Lake City--but also because of human activity that causes earthquakes: dams and mines and fracking and even building tall buildings.
I used to be pretty smug about my home state being 'safe'. We can be hit by tornadoes, but no hurricanes. We aren't known for earthquakes. Yet, Michigan has had its earthquakes and likely will again. There are fault lines in the Upper Peninsula, through the center of the state, and on the Lake Huron side in the "thumb." The state can be shaken by quakes from the New Madrid fault.
When our son was growing up we went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to camp. We took day trips, apparently all along fault lines! One day we toured the Quincy Mine. This copper mine was effectively closed in 1946. We were almost the only ones there that day. The tour took us to the 7th level of the mine. In 1914 the miners working at the Quincy mine caused a rock burst. Any time we redistribute pressure the earth will respond. Mining is a human-created cause of earthquakes, and the Keweenaw mining area has a history of quakes.
The biggest earthquake in Michigan history, magnitude 4.6, occurred in 1947 near Coldwater, MI, a flat, agricultural area in Southern Michigan just above the state line. In 1994 the state was hit by a magnitude 3.4 quake centered near Potterville, just west of Lansing. And in 2015 a magnitude 4.2 quake was centered in Galesburg just south of Kalamazoo. We have lived in Lansing, and a half-hour down the road from Coldwater and Kalamazoo. Four months ago a 2.2 quake occurred in Grosse Point, just east of Detroit.
So much for being 'safe' from earthquakes.
Miles' style was entertaining and the information very accessible. Readers who enjoy learning about the natural world, disasters or potential disasters, and the implications of the energy industry's impact on our natural world will enjoy this book. Just be warned: this book may keep you awake at night.
I received a free book from the publisher through a Goodreads giveaway.
Thanks, Ms. Miles, for your research and contribution to our knowledge base.