Quakeland: On the Road to America's Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles

Updated on September 2, 2017

Kathryn Miles and I share one thing in common. An interest in earthquakes, but my fascination with them has been romanticized thanks to Hollywood.

Miles describes the start of her fascination by recounting an earthquake in the summer of 1980, when the Midwest was rocked by a 5.1 quake. She recounts how she heard about it on the radio after ditching a summer job and tries to remember if she physically felt it.

The quake was real as it happened on a Sunday afternoon and she mentions that the fans at a Detroit Tigers baseball game felt the stadium shake. I did feel the movement as I was in bed reading. That's just my two cents.

After this recollection, the book then shifts to Yellowstone (along with some history) and then to 1959 when the Painter family decided to camp out at Hebgen Lake. This would be the site of a major quake and change the family forever.

With more elementary earthquake history, Miles then begins her haphazard journey throughout the country researching "newly" discovered fault lines and the potential effects of a large magnitude shaker. Basically, she should have saved her money and stayed home.

To her credit, Miles does present a lot of information, but, there's too much of it and it doesn't fit into this book. A series of articles would have been sufficient and a lot more informative.

Take for instance the New Madrid fault line.

The only thing I learned about her visit to Memphis was that she took a paddle boat ride on the Mississippi, a group of retired women were drinking wine and the tour guides name was James.

Prior to this, she visited Hoover Dam and we meet Zane. They joke about the movie San Andreas and not even before page 100, pop culture films regarding earthquakes are mentioned.

Again, what did I learn? Nothing.

What I did learn throughout the book was what the people were wearing when she interviewed the experts and what their offices looked like. One expert had messy bookshelves and a bottle of Gatorade (orange no doubt) on his desk.

Two years ago, the southwestern part of Michigan was rocked by two small tremors within a few days of each other (it baffled everyone) and this was around the time a prediction was made that the Pacific Northwest was due for a major event. Nothing is mentioned about eithere of these.

As a side note, the Great Lakes region will soon be installing tsunami instruments as reported in June of 2017. If you live in the area you can relax.

True, earthquakes are unpredictable, but Miles really doesn't get into what scientists are working on. She mentions phone apps, but again tells us the fashion choices the experts made for the interview.

My review copy screamed L.A.T.E (lazy author, typist and editor) and I hope that it was cleaned up before sale. I'm also hoping that photos and maps were added to the final product.

This really could have been a useful book, but I think I may have learned more about earthquakes from Joanna Kerns and Kim Delaney, when they starred in their respective disaster movies.

And yes, I would like Connie's fried mush recipe.





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