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Earthquake, By Andrew Robinson


Every year Britain experiences 200 minor tremors. Larger ones happen once a decade. This reviewer mistook one for the rumble of a nearby train, as did Robinson in 2008.

In areas where plate tectonics (ironically, from Greek for "builder") are more evident, such mistakes are unlikely though measurement is haphazard: Richter admitted his scale was "rather rough and ready".

One of the startling illustrations in this lively account is a relief on a Pompeiian house of destruction caused by a quake in AD62. Nero said the city should be abandoned. It was, 17 years later.