This Is Chance!: The Shaking of An All-American City, the Voice That Held it Together

Jon Mooallem. Random House, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-50991-2
Journalist Mooallem (Wild Ones) vividly dramatizes the impact of the 9.2-magnitude Great Alaska Earthquake on the residents of Anchorage in this poignant chronicle. Striking “just before sundown” on March 27, 1964, the earthquake shut down the electrical grid and sent “four-foot-high ground waves” rolling through city streets. Mooallem centers his narrative on local reporter Genie Chance, who was running an errand with her 13-year-old son when the earthquake hit. After dropping him at home with her husband and two younger children, Chance headed to the collapsed J.C. Penney department store downtown to photograph the damage. As soon as her radio station returned to the air, she began broadcasting from the mobile unit in her car, sharing reports from civic leaders, issuing a tsunami warning, and reassuring her listeners “that the world had not come to an end.” She later estimated that she talked for 30 hours straight, and Mooallem credits her and numerous other municipal officials and civilian volunteers with keeping the “modern-day frontier town” from descending into chaos. Interweaving accounts of search-and-rescue operations with the story of a local production of Our Town staged the weekend after the earthquake, Mooallem delivers a moving tribute to the spirit of community in the face of disaster. This inspiring tale feels bound for the big-screen. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/20/2019
Release date: 03/24/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-525-50992-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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