Steve Olson has written a thoughtful and well-researched book on the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the late twentieth century’s most notorious volcanic eruption in the continental United States. Between historic narratives, personal stories of victims and survivors, and follow-up of the four decades since the blast, the book is thoroughly engrossing. However, Olson spends too much time on the origins of Weyerhaeuser, which was the most active logging company in the area at the time of the eruption, and forest conservation efforts dating back to the 19th century. The book works best when narrating the incredible stories of those who lived and died on the Oregon mountain on May 18, 1980, and describing post-blast preservation efforts & natural restoration.

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