The End is Nigh: A History of Natural Disasters by Henrik Svensen
Spanning more than 2,000 years and many continents, this history of natural disasters includes the Lisbon earthquake of 1755; the San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the South Asian tsunami of 2004; and hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005; and explores many more. Instead of this book being a mere catalogue of the world's calamities, however, Henrik Svensen has selected incidents that have in some way or other changed the course of history or the way that we view such tragedies: the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, for instance, is a fine example of how earthquake management became a part of new city planning. Svensen also relates gripping eyewitness accounts and individual destinies, investigating how these tragedies have changed us, the way that we live and how we think. When disaster strikes do we react differently today from how people did hundreds of years ago? Svensen shows that victims always seem to ask the same questions: why did this happen to us, and not to someone else? Does the cause lie in unruly natural forces, or are we being punished by God for our sins? Or are disasters perhaps caused by our abuse of the environment? Presenting results from many scientific disciplines, including geology, anthropology and sociology, The End is Nigh at the same time reveals the personal stories of the victims of natural disasters. The result is as instructive as it is affecting, and will appeal to a wide general audience.