Terra by Richard Hamblyn: a book review


Terra, by Richard Hamblyn

A while back I read with fascination, and a touch of horror, Richard Hamblyn’s Terra – Tales of the Earth: Four Events That Changed the World – a well-written and interesting book. Organised around the themes of earth, air, fire, and water, it describes the 1755 earthquake that levelled Lisbon, the 1783 cloud of dust that choked Europe, the 1883 eruption of Krakatau, and the 1946 tsunami that struck Hilo in Hawaii. A reminder not to take the Earth for granted.

Later tsunamis get a very brief mention, along with (then) ten-year-old Tilly Smith, who saved a hundred people in Thailand in 2004, because she had paid attention to her schoolteacher when tsunamis were discussed in class.


Ruins of Convento do Carmo in Lisbon, destroyed in 1755 (photo by Chris Adams); eruption of Krakatau

This is a book for both science buffs and history buffs, with many primary sources being quoted. I gave this one four stars.

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Terra, by Richard Hamblyn: 4 stars

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