• Disaster!

  • A History of Earthquakes, Floods, Plagues, and Other Catastrophes
  • By: John Withington
  • Narrated by: Roger Clark
  • Length: 17 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (41 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A comprehensive catalog of the most devastating and deadly events-natural or man-made-in human history.   

If you follow the news it can seem like injury, sickness, and death are now constant, inescapable occurrences that threaten us every second of every day. But such catastrophic events - as terrible and frightening as they are - have been happening for as long as mankind has walked the Earth.... and even before.   

From ancient volcanoes and floods to epidemics of cholera and smallpox to Hitler's and Stalin's mass killings in the 20th century, humanity's continued existence has always seemed perilous. This volume offers a unique perspective on our modern fears by revealing how dangerous our world has always been-with examples such as: 

  • The Black Death that killed over 75 million people in the 1300s
  • The 1883 volcanic eruption on Krakatoa
  • The Irish Potato Famine
  • The 1970 cyclone in Bangladesh
  • And the long-ago volcano in Sumatra that may have wiped out as much as 99 percent of the world population.   

With this catalog of calamity, listeners will be engrossed, enlightened, and relieved to realize that despite all the disasters that have befallen humanity, we are still here.

©2008 John Withington (P)2018 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic account of disasters!

I work in emergency management so I have an admittedly creepy interest in disasters. This book was amazing. I had to buy the print version after listening to the audiobook so I can reference it in classes I’m teaching. And I’m always a fanboy for Roger Clark’s narrations!

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Well done but gets a little tedious

The author does a commendable job of trying to quickly summarize quite a few notable disasters, bringing in a few memorable anecdotes to try to enliven each story. Stories are grouped by disaster type, with the first chapters covering volcanoes, then earthquakes and then floods, with many more chapters on other types of disasters. It is a kind of encyclopedia of the world's worst disasters. An encyclopedia may be useful if you want a quick summary of, say, what really happened at Krakatoa. But most of us have no interest in reading an encyclopedia cover to cover.

After the third volcano, or the fifth earthquake, or the seventh flood, the stories start to swirl together in a dizzying array of grim statistics and debris. These may be important stories worth recording, but reading the details of a long list of them does not make for very captivating reading. I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone struggling with depression or negative thoughts.

You get the feeling that the Earth is not some garden paradise, but rather a pretty hostile planet that humans struggle to survive on. We are like ants on a soggy cracker floating perilously close to rocks being battered by crashing surf, or something.

I actually would recommend this book to anyone who is at all religious. This book might cure you, or at least get you to thinking deep thoughts about God and his "infinite mercy."

3 people found this helpful

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Love this stuff

As a decision scientist, I'm fascinated by the many ways that seemingly smart people can screw things up or be blind to unforeseen consequences. This book is filled with unlimited examples.

Ironically, this book cheers me up. If I think I'm having a bad day, I listen to this book. My bad days don't even compare to what people experienced based on these stories!

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting on a historical basis.

Roger Clark was the perfect choice to narrate this book. As a whole very interesting for history buffs a must. It was a nice change from my normal books.
I would recommend this book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty Good

This is obviously not great literature but it's fun for disaster junkies. The narrator does a great job