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In December 1811, a series of quakes rocked the area near New Madrid, Missouri, a settlement on the Mississippi River. Sparsely populated by French fur-traders, a dwindling number of Native Americans and newly-arrived European immigrants, the region rumbled for weeks. Rivers ran backwards. Gaseous crevasses in the earth gaped, swallowing people and buildings.
While "The New Madrid Quake Chronicles" is a story of a natural calamity, it is also a parable about the imprint a disaster can leave on any family for generations. The reader meets survivors of the Great Quake from two great families headed by Shawnee leader Blue Turtle and German exile Blas Baur, whose descendents share special quake-sensing abilities. Their stories are lyrically told: mighty rivers meeting, mightier tectonic plates clashing.
Historical fiction, family saga and military-political history with a touch of seismic sci-fi, "The New Madrid Quake Chronicles" is a cautionary tale. If an 1811-sized quake hit New Madrid today, an estimated 3,500 residents would die. It would leave 730,000 homeless and 2.6 million without power. Most bridges over the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers would fall. Experts agree that a big one will likely strike again in the New Madrid Seismic Zone; how prepared will we be?