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Headline-making natural disasters with devastating consequences for millions of people. But what do we actually know about these literally earth-shaking events?

New York Times bestselling author, explorer, journalist, and geologist Simon Winchester—who’s been shaken by earthquakes in New Zealand, skied through Greenland to help prove the theory of plate tectonics, and even charred the soles of his boots climbing a volcano—looks at the science, technology, and societal impact of these inter-connected natural phenomena.


SIMON WINCHESTER is the New York Times best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman. His recent titles include Atlantic and The Men Who United the States. Winchester was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to journalism and literature. He lives in Massachusetts and New York City.

Word of the Week

Delope: In duelling, the act of raising your weapon into the air and firing harmlessly. The over-wrought bodice-ripping novels of Georgette Heyer rather popularized this odd word, which has nothing to do with 'elope' - though a delopement may well perhaps lead to an elopement. At least, in one of Miss Heyer's books.

Haruspex: a seer, first noted among the Etruscan priesthood, who claimed to be able to foretell events from a close inspection of the entrails of dead animals.

Mallemaroking: The carousing of drunken seamen on ice-bound Greenland whaling ships.