In A Dangerous Place, Marc Reisner, the author of Cadillac Desert, the classic history of the American West and its fatal dependence on water, returns to the subject that never ceased to seduce him: California.
Writing with his signature command of his subject and with compelling resonance, Reisner leads us through California’s improbable history and rise from a largely desert land to the most populated state in the nation, fueled by an economic engine more productive than all of Africa. Reisner believes that the achievement of this, the last great desert civilization, hinges on California’s denial of its own inescapable fate. Both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas sit astride two of the most violently seismic zones on the planet. The earthquakes that have already rocked California were, according to Reisner, mere prologues to a future cataclysm that will result in destruction of such magnitude that the only recourse will be to rebuild from the ground up. Reisner concludes A Dangerous Place with a hypothetical but chillingly realistic description of such a disaster and its horrifying aftereffects.
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Published February 11, 2003
History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math.