The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet

THE GREAT QUAKE                               HENRY FOUNTAIN

On March 27, 1964, at 5:36 p.m., the biggest earthquake ever recorded in North America--and the second biggest ever in the world, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale--struck Alaska, devastating coastal towns and villages and killing more than 130 people in what was then a relatively sparsely populated region. In a riveting tale about the almost unimaginable brute force of nature, New York Times science journalist Henry Fountain, in his first trade book, re-creates the lives of the villagers and townspeople living in Chenega, Anchorage, and Valdez; describes the sheer beauty of the geology of the region, with its towering peaks and 20-mile-long glaciers; and reveals the impact of the quake on the towns, the buildings, and the lives of the inhabitants. George Plafker, a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey with years of experience scouring the Alaskan wilderness, is asked to investigate the Prince William Sound region in the aftermath of the quake, to better understand its origins. His work confirmed the then-controversial theory of plate tectonics that explained how and why such deadly quakes occur, and how we can plan for the next one.


This book about March 27, 1964, 9.2 earthquakes and the destruction that followed. Is a fascinating read. The author takes you to the village in Alaska where a tsunami struck later after the quake and killed 130 people. He then goes on and discusses his theory about plate tectonics, which was controversial at that time. It is now accepted and taught. The author is able to weave science and the description from personal accounts to make this story more interesting and less scientific. The tragedy that the people went through and villages wiped out you can get a sense of loss still after all of these years. I thought it interesting that Valdez was once a village before the quake and after later became a port for the pipeline. A very good book and a lot of information that I did not know about. I received this book from I gave it 4 stars Follow us at

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