Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
999 Challenge Category: Nonfiction
In 1883, the volcano on the island of Krakatau shocked the world by literally blowing the island apart. In this detailed account that starts with trading and the Dutch control of the area, describes the science of plate tectonics (which wasn't fully understood until some 80 years after), and then gives various eyewitness accounts of the eruption itself.
It's a fascinating account, and there is a lot of information packed into this book. I was rather surprised by the breadth of topics covered (trade, plate tectonics, even some biology) over a couple of hundred years (1600s-1900s). Still, Winchester writes engagingly without many technical terms, and there are ample pictures and graphs to aid as well. 4.5 stars.
Cross-posted at the 999 Challenge.