A burgeoning new city is built on the dreams of the American gold rush. It is also built upon a landscape that has been stretching, sliding and breaking apart for millennia. In 1906 the dreams of this city, came crashing down beneath the rippling wave of a horrifying earthquake that turned roads into great rippling rivers, that set buildings ablaze for days on end, that made homes collapse upon themselves.
Simon Winchester's breathtaking story delves deep beneath the surface of the earth, and explains to us why the world moves as it does; and breaks apart with such devastating results. At the same time he never lets us forget the human story: what happened in this new, seemingly blessed city on the 18th April 1906. As he vividly portrays the lives of the people who suffered and survived the devastation, he also tells a universal story: the hubris of man as he ignores the warnings of nature and how we respond and try to understand the world around us.