Earth-Shattering Events

Earth-Shattering Events

Earthquakes, Nations and Civilization

  1. Andrew Robinson
  • ISBN 9780500518595
  • 23.40 x 15.30 cm
  • Hardback
  • 256pp
  • With 15 illustrations
  • First published 2016

A groundbreaking survey of the cultural, political and social impacts of major earthquakes of the modern era

‘Robinson has a talent for evoking chaos and, unavoidably, his brain-melting descriptions have a disaster-movie quality - it's hard to tear your eye away from the page ’ – Daily Telegraph
'An enlightening read [that] places earthquakes into proper historical perspective. Robinson captures the reader’s attention [and] the chronological organization of Earth-Shattering Events allows the reader to easily follow the evolution of our understanding of earthquakes'– Science
‘A compelling history of seismicity and society’– Nature
‘A truly welcome, and refreshing, study that puts earthquake impact on history into a proper perspective’– Amos Nur, Apocalypse: Earthquakes, Archaeology and the Wrath of God
'Fascinating and fact-rich ... enlightening and intriguing ... innovative and persuasive'– The Times
'Individually, these case studies make vivid reading, and collectively they tell a fascinating story about how seismology developed as a science'– Physics World
'Delightfully un-academic but thoughtfully structured ... thought-provoking'– Geoscientist

Earth-Shattering events

Read Andrew Robinson's article 'The earthquakes that Rocked Georgian London' in BBC History Magazine

From antiquity until the present day, on every continent, human beings have made a Faustian bargain with the risk of periodic devastation by earthquake. Today around half of the world’s largest cities – as many as 60 – lie in areas of major seismic activity.

Each earthquake-struck society offers its own particular lesson; and yet, taken together, such earth-shattering events have important shared consequences for the world.

Earth-Shattering Events

This book seeks to understand exactly how human agency and great earthquakes have interacted, not only in the short term but also in the long perspective of history. For over the long term, the impact of a great earthquake depends not only on the chance factors of its epicentre, magnitude and timing, but also on human factors: the political, economic, social, intellectual, religious and cultural resources specific to a region’s history.

While physical devastation has in some times and places led to permanent decline and collapse, elsewhere earthquakes have presented opportunities for renewal, the cities they destroy proving to be extraordinarily resilient. After its wholesale destruction by an earthquake and fire in 1906, San Francisco went on to flourish, giving birth in the 1950s to the high-tech industrial area on the San Andreas fault now known as Silicon Valley.

Andrew Robinson has written more than 25 books on the arts and sciences. They include Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts, India: A Short History and Earthshock, which won the Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding Publication Award. He is also a regular contributor to magazines, such as Current World Archaeology, History Today, The Lancet, Nature and Science. A former literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement, he has been a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.
See the author's website

Also by Andrew Robinson
The Man Who Deciphered Linear B
The Scientists
India - A Short History
The Story of Writing