Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Natural Disasters That Changed the World by Rodney Castleden

book cover
Natural Disasters That Changed the World
by Rodney Castleden

ISBN-13: 9780785822288
Hardback: 576 pages
Publisher: Chartwell Books
Released: April 1, 2007

Source: Bought the book.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Contains 170 natural disasters, their causes, their impact on people and landscape, and their significance on the world around us.

My Review:
Natural Disasters That Changed the World is a world history viewed through brief accounts of the natural disasters that influenced history. While mainly about natural disasters, several shipwrecks were included even though the disaster was mainly caused by human error. Not every disaster had a clear "this changed the way we do things" summary at the end, though sometimes the point was how we keep building in areas or doing things that will lead to tragedy when the natural disaster strikes again.

Even with a book this thick, it would have been difficult for the author to go in-depth on 170 different disasters. He briefly described the mechanics of how each type of natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, landslide, flooding, etc.) occurs at least once in the book. Most of the entries were about 2 pages long and read like a newspaper report--this happened at this time, then this happened, and this much damage was done." From the back cover description I'd read, I expected a lot of first-hand reports of what it was like to live through the event, but first-hand accounts were rarely given and usually brief.

Overall, the book was interesting, but the disasters all started to sound similar by the end of the book. The events chosen for the pre-history part of the book were speculative and vague, and I didn't really get any value out of them. I think I would have enjoyed more details and first-hand accounts for fewer--though significant--disasters rather than such brief overviews.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.