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Simon Winchester never met a tangent he didn’t like. In Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883, Winchester tells a story about a volcano that exploded. Sounds simple, right? Boom. Scream. Death. Doom. Yadda, yadda…index. But throughout the book, Winchester—whose past work includes The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World—darts back and forth from volcanology to etymology to climatology, exploring every ripple of Krakatoa’s vast legacy. In the first chapter, for example, en route to the titular volcano in Indonesia, Winchester stops off to visit the Visigoths besieging Rome, Pliny the Elder dying beneath Mount Vesuvius, Lord Jim rhapsodizing about pepper, and Vasco da Gama exploring the high seas. Winchester’s fluid prose echoes the essence of an active volcano, and the resulting tome has more twists and turns than a field of hardened lava. Winchester is in town at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (FG)