Amazing and just a bit frightening Concisely spells out the dangers associated with building on unstable land Also identifies the financial forces that encourage unwise siting and building practices Focuses on San Francisco and LA Yes, in concludes with a possible earthquake scenario centered on San Francisco Could benefit from maps As it is, it assumes you can figure out where these places are Also, could benefit from a few photos. and here s a non fiction book which explains exactly how likely California is no simultaneously flood, fall into the ocean, catch fire, and get eaten by dinosaurs It s pretty good, though it prompted a small flurry of emergency prep in our house. Writing With A Signature Command Of His Subject And With Compelling Resonance, Marc Reisner Leads Us Through California S Improbable Rise From A Largely Desert Land To The Most Populated State In The Nation, Fueled By An Economic Engine Productive Than All Of Africa Reisner Believes That The Success Of This Last Great Desert Civilization Hinges On California S Denial Of Its Own Inescapable Fate Both The Los Angeles And San Francisco Bay Areas Sit Astride Two Of The Most Violently Seismic Zones On The Planet The Earthquakes That Have Already Rocked California Were, According To Reisner, A Mere Prologue To A Future Cataclysm That Will Result In Immense Destruction Concluding With A Hypothetical But Chillingly Realistic Description Of What Such A Disaster Would Look Like, A Dangerous Place Mixes Science, History, And Cultural Commentary In A Haunting Work Of Profound Importance This wasn t anything new to me since I am familiar with earthquakes and the Delta Still scary, though Anyone who lives in California and doesn t know a lot about geology or the disaster in the making that is the Sacramento River Delta should read this. Time to either get out of the Bay Area, or stock up on water, food, gas, and meet a friend with a boat in Marin Great book, very scary to learn just how unstable the densely populated areas of California are Reisner writes about the infrastructure problems that exist in the Bay Area due to the threat of earthquakes It is a very interesting read of what if Reisner creates a scenario of damage that would make Katrina and New Orleans pale in comparison. This book was published three years after the author s death, so there are some things that probably would have changed and improved the flow and clarity of the book However, it s got a great recap of the history of water in California, and a lot of deserved focus on the vulnerabilities of the levees in the delta not only to natural decomposition, erosion and flooding, but to seismic activity He brings that home again in the scenario he paints for the future, and he is not uninformed The scenario sections which form the latter half of the book are sometimes briefly confusing as the text as it was left mixes in real history with the imagined future scenario At this point, there s also an issue that some of the material is outdated However, in terms of the major points and purposes of the book, they should probably be temporarily overlooked in order to get a larger sense of perspective I am quite familiar with most of the things the author talks about, because of being exposed to the delta issues early on, and a long and ongoing career in emergency management I m not sure how or if the completely uninitiated would take or understand the whole book in the same way, or even if they would be able to get through it But I do recommend that people who live and work in California make the effort and pay attention to this little book, a fast read, because there are factors we can change for better outcomes if there is enough knowledge and political will. Excellent history of the 19th and early 20th century population booms of San Francisco and Los Angeles, particularly in LA and the engineering and chicanery involved in getting water from point A to a very far point B The book ends with a rather lengthy but horrifyingly detailed hour to hour imagining of THE BIG ONE hitting the Bay area, based on past disaster and modern understandings of seismology and structure Why again did I move to California Reisner was an environmentalist wrote a seminal book called Cadillac Desert about water in the American West A Dangerous Place is his smaller, later book about earthquakes in my adoptive state of California It s the first book of his I ve read Cadillac Desert is on my shelf, next up , and he s a good writer Having enjoyed his whirlwind tour of the ill advised settling of Europeans en mass on this part of the continent, atop a spiderweb of destructive faultlines and prone to floods and fires too, I m now digging into his hypothetical but solid presentation of what would happen if a major quake struck under the bay a few years from now It s chilling and fascinating reading.Here s a brief bit from his history section San Francisco was something beyond the most explosive boomtown in history It was the only nineteenth century American boomtown among hundreds that never skipped a beat It didn t decline, collapse, disappear from the earth it just went on This is not necessarily something to brag about, because the by products of San Francisco s early years were horror and excess During the gold panning era, which went full tilt for only five or six years, miners and cavalry massacred Indians by the thousands When they were bored killing Indians, they lynched Mexicans, blacks, and Chinese Market hunters feeding San Francisco and the gold country towns and camps needed about eight years to wipe out the Central Valley s herd of antelope and elk, which some had compared to bison on the Great Plains they also slaughtered waterfowl by the millions Whole mountainsides whole basins, like Lake Tahoe s were shorn of virgin timber to erect San Francisco and dozens of mining towns This is environmental revisionist history written with a sharp pen, enlightening, grisly, sometimes thrilling, as Reisner moves from history into his detailed cautionary tale of what lies ahead for California s big cities when a big quake finally hits one. Reisner died before the final edit so it s not well annotated So it goes from being a scholarly meditation to of a polemic But a good polemic The only part I didn t care for was the imagined earthquake I can t imagine he would have left that in as it really brings down the very factual descriptions of how California has unwittingly put itself in a really bad place.
Marc Reisner was an American environmentalist and writer best known for his book Cadillac Desert, a history of water management in the American West.He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of a lawyer and a scriptwriter, and graduated from Earlham College in 1971 For a time he was on the staffs of Environmental Action and the Population Institute in Washington, D.C Starting in 1972, he wo
- 208 pages
- A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate
- Marc Reisner
- 08 September 2019 Marc Reisner