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The Shocks and Aftershocks of the Great Alaska Quake of 1964 | Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Shocks and Aftershocks of the Great Alaska Quake of 1964

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On March 27, 1964, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America shook Alaska for more than four minutes. Jon Mooallem, a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine, chronicles the aftermath in his new book, “This Is Chance!” Mooallem focuses his account on several individuals involved with the story, including Genie Chance, a part-time radio reporter who provided vital information to listeners.

“There were a lot of communities that were affected around Alaska,” Mooallem says on this week’s podcast. “I chose to focus the book on Anchorage because it was really a place that was just beginning to get on its feet, that sort of represented the promise of what Alaska could be, and felt great pride in itself but also real insecurity. The quake came at a very precarious moment for the community, when it was just starting to feel like it had something to offer the rest of America. And to be struck like this in such a seemingly random and very cruel way, I think really affected the self-image of the community.”

Elisabeth Egan, an editor at the Book Review, visits the podcast this week to discuss Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” the most recent pick for Group Text, a monthly column for readers and book clubs. “It’s a book about taking a pause. We’re all in this moment where everything that we care about is on hold,” Egan says. “The book is about finding peace within that moment of being on hold. It’s about doing not a whole lot, but finding meaning in the absence of activity. It doesn’t hit you over the head with that message, but it’s there.”

Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai talk about their recent reviews. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week:

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].


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