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The Rift by Walter J. Williams
Published by HarperCollins
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The Rift is a geological thriller of a near-future disaster that really could happen. "Everybody knows" that California is earthquake country. But what people conveniently forget is that the most powerful earthquakes to strike the continental US in recorded history didn't happen on the West Coast.
During the winter of 1811-1812, three devestating earthquakes struck the Mississippi valley, centered on the tiny village of New Madrid. At the time the area was only sparsely populated and the event left little impression on the historical memory.
Today that region is the heartland of the US, containing her richest farmland and much of her industry. Because no one believes that an earthquake could actually happen there, the people are unprepared. Buildings are not built to withstand ground shaking. And the geological structures that produced the New Madrid quake are building more and more pressure.
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, those structures give with a terrible lurch, spreading devestation throughout the heartland. However, the rift is more than just a geophysical feature. There is also a rift in the heart of american society, one that has never really been mended in the century and a half since the Civil War.
When the earthquake disrupts the pleasant certainties of civilization, all those old fears and hostilities break open with new vengeance. Can a US already tortured by physical destruction also deal with a band of Ku Klux Klan hardcases hellbent on starting a racial "holy war" to create their notion of a perfect America?
Click here to buy The Rift in paperback.
Review posted July 20, 1999
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