Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded – REVIEW

3 out of 5 stars.

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 book cover - red background with drawing of Krakatoa before it erupted

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Erupting volcano line drawing


Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, examines the legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa, which was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogotá and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island’s destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all — in view of today’s new political climate — the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Krakatoa gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event.

Lava spurting up from the ground


Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester is about the incredible eruption of the volcanic island, Krakatoa, in 1883 and the damage and destruction that followed.

I enjoyed the science and the personal reflections from victims and survivors in this book, but the amount of detail that Mr. Winchester included became frustrating in spots. For example, much like Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, there were tangents that really weren’t necessary to the book. In this case, Mr. Winchester feels the need to provide us with the whole history of Lloyd’s Insurance out of London. It’s not necessary to the story line and it becomes very boring and tedious.

That being said, the research he conducted and the way he crafted the book with a mixture of science and personal tales work very well together. I still enjoyed the book, but if you read it, beware of the seemingly never-ending history section on Lloyd’s of London.