KRAKATOA -- THE DAY THE WORLD EXPLODED: AUGUST 27, 1883
It triggered deadly 135-foot waves, months of spectacular sunsets seen around the world, and an outbreak of Islamic militancy now frighteningly familiar. To surviving witnesses, it was the Day of Judgment: a series of volcanic eruptions that obliterated an island in the Indian Ocean and claimed nearly 40,000 lives. The cataclysm was a curious mix of the biblical and the modern — it became the first news event with a truly global reach, thanks to thousands of miles of newly laid transoceanic cable. Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) has likewise crafted something old-fashioned and new: a collection of primers (explaining everything from island ecology to plate tectonics) that illuminate a real-life story bigger than any Hollywood blockbuster.