Review: Quakeland by Kathryn Miles


It’s rare that I write reviews nowadays, but this book shocked me with how much I enjoyed it, and since I haven’t seen anyone else talk about it I needed to share!

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22716447Title: Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake
Author: Kathryn Miles
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication date: August 29, 2017
Genres: Non-fiction, Science, History, Nature
Source: Scribd audiobook

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A journey around the United States in search of the truth about the threat of earthquakes leads to spine-tingling discoveries, unnerving experts, and ultimately the kind of preparations that will actually help guide us through disasters. It’s a road trip full of surprises.

Earthquakes. You need to worry about them only if you’re in San Francisco, right? Wrong. We have been making enormous changes to subterranean America, and Mother Earth, as always, has been making some of her own. . . . The consequences for our real estate, our civil engineering, and our communities will be huge because they will include earthquakes most of us do not expect and cannot imagine–at least not without reading Quakeland. Kathryn Miles descends into mines in the Northwest, dissects Mississippi levee engineering studies, uncovers the horrific risks of an earthquake in the Northeast, and interviews the seismologists, structual engineers, and emergency managers around the country who are addressing this ground shaking threat.

As Miles relates, the era of human-induced earthquakes began in 1962 in Colorado after millions of gallons of chemical-weapon waste was pumped underground in the Rockies. More than 1,500 quakes over the following seven years resulted. The Department of Energy plans to dump spent nuclear rods in the same way. Evidence of fracking’s seismological impact continues to mount. . . . Humans as well as fault lines built our “quakeland.”

What will happen when Memphis, home of FedEx’s 1.5-million-packages-a-day hub, goes offline as a result of an earthquake along the unstable Reelfoot Fault? FEMA has estimated that a modest 7.0 magnitude quake (twenty of these happen per year around the world) along the Wasatch Fault under Salt Lake City would put a $33 billion dent in our economy. When the Fukushima reactor melted down, tens of thousands were displaced. If New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant blows, ten million people will be displaced. How would that evacuation even begin?

Kathryn Miles’ tour of our land is as fascinating and frightening as it is irresistibly compelling.

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My Review

I looooooved this! I listened to the audiobook over the course of a week during my commute and I thought it was so interesting. As someone without a science background, I found it to be very accessible and engaging, even though it was full of statistics and geological information. I picked this up on a whim because the cover caught my eye, and I’m so glad I did. I have a morbid fascination with natural disasters, and this was both fascinating and very alarming. There are so many things that are involved in preparing for earthquakes that I never thought of. I wasn’t thrilled to read that living in the Midwest doesn’t make me any safer than anywhere else in the US, especially since we have zero education around earthquake safety here. It wasn’t something I ever really thought much about before this.

I learned so much! Like, did you know that the San Andreas movie crew wasn’t permitted to film at the Hoover Dam because the movie was “unrealistic,” yet they allowed for a scene from Transformers, a movie about alien robots, to film on location? Or that when reservoirs are created, the pressure of the heavy water causes earthquakes? Humans are doing a horrific number of things to our planet that are having disastrous consequences, and earthquakes are a huge part of that.

My Rating

4.5 star rating

4.5/5 stars

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If anyone has recommendations for other similarly engaging non-fiction books, I’d love to hear them!

One thought on “Review: Quakeland by Kathryn Miles

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