Thursday, April 28, 2022

A Crack at the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester

Source of book: I own this.


I first read Simon Winchester back in 2018, after a few years of recommendations from friends and book websites. While he is best known for his writing about geology - he was a geologist briefly, before switching to writing - I ended up starting with The Professor and the Madman, his first big hit. Over his nearly 50 year writing career, he has written on a rather broad range of topics, from travel to geopolitics to science to biography to culture. Even within a given book, he brings in ideas from multiple disciplines, tying together history, science, culture, politics, and covering eras from the precambrian to the modern. If it isn’t obvious already, I enjoy his books. The other two I have previously reviewed on this blog are Atlantic, and The Map that Changed the World. I should add that my teens have also enjoyed these and other Winchester books. 

 This particular book is about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Which means it is about plate tectonics, the history of California, anti-Chinese discrimination, the history of modern geology, and a lot more. He draws from contemporary accounts of the earthquake and fire, of course, but also from more modern research on the magnitude and focus of the quake. Included throughout is an account of his road trip across the North American Plate (including a stop in, believe it or not, Iceland, which has the eastern edge of the plate) and back via Alaska. Yes, this is a sprawling book, but it is so much fun no matter what he is talking about. 


The book opens, as many do, with a quote from a poem, in this case “Carmel Point” by Robinson Jeffers. The book quotes only lines 7-10, but I think the whole poem is worth reading. 


The extraordinary patience of things! 

This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—

How beautiful when we first beheld it,

Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;

No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,

Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads—

Now the spoiler has come: does it care?

Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide

That swells and in time will ebb, and all

Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty

Lives in the very grain of the granite,

Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.—As for us:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;

We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident

As the rock and ocean that we were made from.


We Californians know Carmel Point, and its location in relation to the San Andreas Fault, of course. Jeffers is on point with the ephemeral existence of humanity in geologic time, and the fact that the rocks will outlive us in the end. This ties in perfectly with Winchester’s chapter on the deep geologic history of the earth - which is one of the clearest descriptions of the various eras when the surface of the planet was vastly different than it is now. 


The prologue to the book is a series of first-hand accounts of the earthquake from various scientist sorts, whose first thoughts were to carefully record the time of the first jolt, and write down as much data as they could - during the earthquake! The description of Englishman George Davidson is worth quoting. 


Professor Davidson must have been as terrified as anyone, but he was a man trained to observe, and he knew in an instant what was taking place. So, he took painstaking care to note that his watch, as he later reported, stood at 5h 12m 00s. Only he then added the caveat, for safety’s sake - and with the sense of caution that was hardwired into his astronomer’s mind - that this observation was subject to an error of plus or minus two seconds. This reflected, one imagines, any error that he might have made when calculating how long he had spent staggering, his nightshirt awry and his mind still marginally befuddled by sleep, from his bed to the bureau where his watch was ticking and readying itself to slide, along with the pitcher and the shaving cup, onto the redwood floor.  


Winchester talks about a lot of other earthquakes in the book. One of those is the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, which he contrasts with the San Francisco one. 


Lisbon’s disaster, widely regarded as an unstoppable act of a cruel and capricious God, is now largely forgotten. The San Francisco catastrophe, recognized, on the other hand, as having been the act of a perhaps not wholly unpredictable nature, never will be. San Francisco will not be forgotten because, thanks to the growing understanding of science, it became the first seismic event to awaken mankind to the realization that nature’s whims could perhaps be measured, perhaps one day anticipated, then met and even overcome. The tragedy led scientists to begin studying the earth with far greater vigor than ever before. It offered the first opportunity for humans to imagine what it might be like if they, and not God or nature, were ever to be in control. To that extent, the fact that the earthquake occurred in this specific changeling year of 1906 was more than a little fortuitous. 


I must say that, having lived through a number of earthquakes of various sizes here in California, and loving to hike and explore throughout the American West, geology has long fascinated me. I like rocks, and I like science, and I like knowing things. But also, geology has some of the coolest words. In the chapter on Iceland and Greenland, Winchester talks about the Skaergaard Layered Igneous Intrusion, in which magma cooled so slowly that it formed layers, including a layer of chromium so metallic it rings when hit with a hammer. Which is cool. But even better is the fact that such intrusions are called “Plutons.” 


Winchester devotes a chapter to the history of California, and in it, he describes how people came from literally everywhere during the Gold Rush and then the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. This explains something that we Californians struggle to understand about people from elsewhere in the US. While white Californians have been and can be bigoted (see all of the anti-Chinese and anti-Black laws of the past - it’s a sordid history), we have always lived in a diverse society. When we travel to mostly white places (see: parts of Utah or Idaho), it just feels weird. As Winchester points out, by 1900, California already had an “extraordinary demographic diversity” in its cities - and that has only increased over time. This makes for an astonishingly good selection of food throughout the state, and a wonderfully vibrant mix of cultures. I for one love this, and thus bristle at the xenophobia which has come to characterize the American Right in the Trump Era. (And, sadly, the way people like my parents, who introduced me to so many cultures and once embraced diversity, have gone anti-immigrant in their old age.) 


Also of interest to me was the mention of one of my heroes, John Wesley Powell, who explored the Green and Colorado rivers, and served as the second director of the great Geological Survey of the west.  


Powell was, however, a keen environmentalist. His appreciation for the great outdoors and for the peoples who were indigenous to it, and his belief in the need to explore rather than to exploit, in the benefits of preserving rather than plundering (beliefs that were personified by such figures as the great Scotsman John Muir, who went on to found the Sierra Club, and such painters of the wilderness aesthetic as Thomas Moran), won him more enemies than friends. His eager support for the preservation of Indian culture, his abiding preference for sensible and sustainable development, and his obsession with the value of water in the West proved too much for many of the settlers, foresters, and miners who were heading in that direction simply to exploit the country. 


Powell was right, though, and history has shown him to have been incredibly prescient about the water issues which are currently front and center. 


Over the course of my adventuring with the kids, we have visited various sections of the San Andreas Fault, including the places mentioned in the book. From the Salton Sea in the south, to the Sonoma Coast just south of the Mendocino Triple Junction, we have seen most of the visible highlights. In particular, we have seen Wallace Creek in Carrizo Plain, Pinnacles National Park, and the displacement zone at Point Reyes. That last one was created in the San Francisco earthquake. And, of course, I lived for six years a few hundred feet from the San Andreas in the Sierra Madre Mountains, in an area that had a massive rupture in 1857. 


Speaking of famous people in this book, I have to mention botanist David Douglas. Even if you do not know of him, you surely recognize the Douglas Fir, which he named and described. (And a bunch of other plants, too, that have his name in the scientific name.) He comes into the story because he first scientifically described Yerba Buena, a mint relative that once grew everywhere in the Bay Area. The first name for the city which would become San Francisco was named for the herb, before the Franciscans took over the missions, and decided that California’s leading city should be named after their patron saint. 


I mention Douglas, though, because of the weird way he died. Apparently, he was in Hawaii, and managed to fall into a hole. Unfortunately for him, a bull had previously “discovered” the hole, and being generally pissed about it, gored Douglas to death. 


Another fact that I learned in this book was that the term “hoodlum” originated in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Nobody is sure exactly how it came to be, although there are several competing theories. In any case, it referred to the “shanghai men” who would kidnap indebted men and force them into sailor service. 


Also fascinating was the passage on how Chinatowns came to be. Pretty much every city in California once had a Chinatown - and many still do. Bakersfield’s disappeared years ago, but CSUB did a bit of a video about it. These came to be as the result of both the way immigrant communities have always formed, and an increasingly vicious prejudice. 


The fact that the Chinese kept to themselves and made little effort to speak the language or to fit in with the cultural niceties of the majority, caused them to be regarded much as Jews were in other cities: first suspect, then loathed, then feared - and finally, and for all too long in San Francisco’s history, ruthlessly and cruelly discriminated against. 


Winchester gives a bit of history in this regard, but it would be fascinating to read a whole book on that. (I will, however, make a plug here for On Gold Mountain by Lisa See, which is her family’s history in California.) 


Each chapter is headed by an excerpt from something, often a contemporary account. But there are also a number of poems. I love Robert Frost, and I love this poem, which is quoted in part before chapter nine. 


Once By the Pacific 


The shattered water made a misty din.

Great waves looked over others coming in,

And thought of doing something to the shore

That water never did to land before.

The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,

Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.

You could not tell, and yet it looked as if

The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,

The cliff in being backed by continent;

It looked as if a night of dark intent

Was coming, and not only a night, an age.

Someone had better be prepared for rage.

There would be more than ocean-water broken

Before God's last Put out the light was spoken. 


Oh, and I have to mention another amusing anecdote. A number of famous people were in San Francisco at the time of the quake, including Caruso (who has a connection to my wife’s family - I’ll have to tell that story sometime.) But also, there was Ansel Adams. Who was all of four years old at the time. Apparently, he was thrown down by the tremor while running in for breakfast. He smashed his nose against a low garden wall, and broke it. That broken nose is now iconic, and Adams like to joke about it and the way the earthquake gave him his face. 


Every bit as unexpected was the way that Winchester connected the earthquake to the Azusa Street Revival, which kicked off the Pentecostal movement. Apparently, they started meeting just a few days before the quake, and they saw it as a sign from God. They weren’t the only ones, of course - the book also mentions British preacher G. Campbell Morgan, one of the most notable expository preachers. Morgan, like so many since, blamed the “wicked city” for the disaster. Although there are some things I like about Morgan (his book, Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible sits on my shelf, and was part of my own spiritual journey), it is unfortunate that he played a role in the ongoing attribution of “evil” to cities - which has a strong racist element to it, as cities (unlike the small towns of white America) are diverse racially and economically. 


I hope this gives a bit of an idea about the many fascinating stories and facts in this book. Winchester can’t resist drawing in a plethora of ideas and connections in all his books, which is one reason that they are so enjoyable. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Source of book: Borrowed from the library


“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” ~ Viet Thanh Nguyen


This was this month’s selection for our “Literary Lush” book club. One of the things I enjoy about this club is that I end up reading interesting books that I never would have discovered on my own. This book was one I had no idea existed, until it was nominated by an Irish-American member of our club. 

 As a child in the 1980s, the Irish Troubles were in the background of the political noise of that time. Bands like U2, poets like Seamus Heaney, and the various evening newscasts all kept the events in our consciousnesses. I suppose we mostly tended to think that the violence, like that in the Middle East, was destined to last forever. Which is why the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was a stunning development. It is hard to believe it has been 24 years of relative peace now. 


Ironically, the impetus for me to learn more about the Troubles came from an unexpected source. My dad was really into Tom Clancy during my teens, in part because of his uncanny knack for understanding military and aviation technology. I remember him reading us kids a heavily redacted version of Red Storm Rising - he essentially omitted all of the swearing and sex for us. Once I reached my teens, I went and read the first five novels on my own, which is why waterboarding was all too familiar to me long before it was used in Iraq. (Cardinal of the Kremlin


It was Patriot Games, though, that really introduced me to the Irish history. I said ironically, because Clancy was a pretty right wing reactionary sort, and his book was jingoistic as hell. But, because it had to actually set the story in a particular place and time, the background bled through, so to speak. And it was then that, despite Clancy’s obvious loathing for the IRA, I realized that the Irish conflict was a lot more complicated than the narratives I had been fed by the US media. To start with, whatever Clancy thought, it wasn’t good versus evil, terrorists versus legitimate authority, and it was certainly not just Catholic versus Protestant. 


Instead, I discovered a centuries-long history of colonialism, exploitation, displacement, and inequality - you know, the stuff that has caused civil unrest from time immemorial. It was also clear that the role religion played in the conflict was no different from the role it played in countless wars elsewhere: religion was a uniting identity intimately entwined with ethnicity and socioeconomic status. It served as a way to unite people who were already connected by circumstance and history. The Catholics didn’t hate the Protestants because of some deeply held belief in Transubstantiation or Infant Baptism. No, the Catholics had been invaded, displaced, subordinated, and were still suffering from lack of access to the good jobs and a decent life. And the Protestants weren’t motivated by a deep belief in the Book of Common Prayer either - they were and are a shrinking minority in Ireland generally, but with disproportionate power and status in Northern Ireland that they saw slipping away. And, just like many white people in the US, demographic decline has led to fear and anger and hate among those of English and Scottish descent in Northern Ireland. 


[Note: the title of the Clancy book is drawn from a pro-IRA ballad and song. Which is one way that The Chieftains end up in this book.] 


Say Nothing is a book about two things. The first is what the book advertises itself as being about: the story of the disappearance of Jean McConville. And it is about that. But in the process, it tells an extensive history of the Troubles and the main characters in that conflict. 


Many of the details come from an oral history that brought to light a lot of what was going on behind the scenes at the IRA, a project affiliated with Boston College. These interviews gave an interesting look at the motivations and the actions of those during the conflict, and how and why they were eventually resolved. 


It is a compelling book, well written, with just the right amount of detail. And the picture it presents is nuanced, showing all sides of what happened, and how a violent and militarized conflict erupted in a first-world country through a series of missteps, failures, and unwise escalations. 


The title comes from a Seamus Heaney poem, “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing.” 


The quote at the beginning of this post is from the beginning of the book, and it very much sums up a central theme of the book: the Troubles were fought on a battlefield of sorts, but the battle for the memory of what happened is ongoing. 


The book does a great job of concisely summarizing the centuries-old origin of conflict in Ireland. Once, Ireland was its own country, before it was invaded and conquered by the English. At that time, there was no Protestantism, no Church of England, and thus no inherent religious dimension to the problem. This is crucial to remember - and also that the issues that divide Ireland go incredibly far back. 


And how far back is a big question. Does it date to the Norman raiders of the 12th Century? To Henry VIII’s total subjugation of Ireland as a colony? Or to the 17th Century, when English and Scottish “colonists” took over Ireland’s land just as they did in North America? As the book puts it about that time, the “colonists” established a plantation system similar to that in the American South, and the indigenous Irish became serfs on land they used to own. So yeah, the Irish have good reason to be pissed at the English. A series of civil wars (or if you prefer, wars between the Irish and the English) wracked the island for centuries. In the 1920s, the island was finally partitioned, with the small northern portions remaining in the United Kingdom, and most of the island becoming a new (or returning to an old) country: Ireland. So much history here, and you can find bits of it in Victorian literature.


By the beginning of the Troubles, there had been an uneasy detente for some time. Most of Ireland the island believed that the partition was illegitimate, and wanted reunification and the end of British rule. Most of the counties of Northern Ireland wished to remain in the UK. 


But more than that, there was an ongoing problem in Northern Ireland that was eating away at the foundations of peace. Northern Ireland was pretty close to an apartheid state, with most neighborhoods segregated. English Protestants in the “good” neighborhoods, Irish Catholics in the poor ones. And discrimination against Irish Catholics was systemic and widespread. Worse, the Irish lacked the political power to better their conditions, and thus had to find other means of pushing back at the oppression. Which shouldn’t be surprising given the history. The English viewed the Irish as subhuman - just like they did the indigenous Africans, and the indigenous Americans, and the indigenous South Asians and…well, that’s the British Empire for you. 


In 1969, the event that sparked the troubles occurred. Irish Catholics organized a march to protest the segregated conditions. Protestant rabble rousers decided to ambush the march, throwing rocks, and wielding clubs. The Irish believed that the British Army and the local police (British Protestants, of course) knew about this planned ambush and looked the other way. 


This in turn led to an escalation by the revivified IRA, and then an even bigger escalation by Britain. The closest thing this book has to an unmitigated villain is the British Army who headed up the Irish campaign, Frank Kitson. He took the tactics he had learned in the brutal suppression of the indigenous population in Kenya, and figured it would apply just as well to another Empire colony. And that included the network of paid informants and the attempt at destruction of cultural alliances using fear of informing. 


Within a few years, Belfast had become essentially a war zone, and would remain so for decades. Like most “asymmetrical” conflicts, particularly ones in which the combatants live in proximity to each other and to civilians, this one had multiple parties on each side, and plenty of official and unofficial skullduggery. 


On the “Loyalist” side, you had the official combatants: the British Army. You had the supposedly non-partisan police force, which was actively fighting on the side of the British, looking the other way whenever an Irish Catholic was murdered. And you had the paramilitary groups like the UVF and the UDA. 


Likewise, on the “Republican” side, you had the official IRA, the provisionals, and the INLA. But also, there was unofficial support by the government of Ireland, military aid from communist groups and governments around the world, and a lot of financial support from Irish Americans. 


One of the interesting bits early in the book that I was very much not expecting, was the appearance of Simon Winchester. By coincidence, was concurrently reading The Crack in the Edge of the World - stay tuned for that review - and have enjoyed Winchester’s writing for many years. In this case, it is the very young and green Winchester, then a writer for The Guardian, who fell victim to Frank Kitson’s expert manipulation of the media. He eventually wised up, and publicly apologized for being used by Kitson as a “mouthpiece” for the army. I am not surprised he came clean - he is an introspective sort, determined to get the story right, and always aware of potential bias. Which is one of the reasons I love his writing. He does his homework. And apparently learned a crucial lesson at this time. 


I think perhaps the saddest part about the book is that the conflict went on for decades, cost a lot of lives, psychologically damaged the participants, and in the end, it is difficult to say that anyone “won.” I guess the best one can say about the resolution is that there was some progress made toward equality, and the killing stopped. But Ireland remains divided, and Brexit may undermine the peace - or perhaps lead to the unity sought by the Irish. In any case, there was a lot of suffering over a lot of time, and even those involved ended up wondering if it was worth it. 


One of the most harrowing passages describes the hunger strikes. The first were by Marian and Dolours Price, who were arrested after planting bombs in London for the IRA. Initially, they were force fed, which led to a public outcry, and also to the medical associations coming down firmly against forced feedings as a violation of both human rights and medical ethics. Without doctors or nurses to insert feeding tubes, the British changed policy. Over time, nearly a dozen IRA prisoners starved themselves to death, creating a public relations nightmare for Margaret Thatcher and the British, and this in turn likely started the peace process. 


The basic demand of the hunger strikers was that they be treated, not as common criminals, but as prisoners of war. After all, they saw the conflict as a war. They were soldiers, and the IRA mostly targeted property and what they viewed as enemy combatants: soldiers, cops, and informers. But, the difference between “freedom fighter” and “terrorist” is often who tells the story - see the opening quote. 


If in fact it was the hunger strikes that did what the bombings and killings could not, then this proves that Terence MacSwiney, one of the hunger strikers who died, said: “It is not those who inflict the most but those who suffer the most who will conquer.” 


I definitely have to mention Father Alec Reid, a priest who advocated for peace. He refused to stay aloof, however, and was often there giving last rites or funeral services for dead combatants. He was, as he said, not on either side of the conflict, but on the side of the fallen. One of the truly admirable characters in this book, he played a crucial role behind the scenes in negotiating the peace. I am glad he lived to see it. Until his death, he continued to humanize both sides, noting that the IRA existed in response to the violent suppression of human rights by the Unionists. 


I mentioned that war damages the participants. The usual justification is “it will be worth it in the end.” Which, perhaps in a few cases, yes, it may have been. For example, getting rid of Hitler and ending his genocides was a very good thing. Was it worth the millions of deaths? Maybe. There is at least a case for that. 


But what happens when the war is pointless, or when victory is denied. Or, in the case of the Troubles, when so little changed afterward, and even a glorious defeat was withheld? The author quotes the interviews with Dolours Price, and her pain and anguish over the war and her role in it, concluding that it wasn’t just the dying that did it - IRA volunteers were required to kill as well. 


There is a concept in psychology called “moral injury,” a notion, distinct from the idea of trauma, tha relates to the ways in which ex-soldiers make sense of the socially transgressive things they have done during wartime. Price felt a sharp sense of moral injury: she believed that she had been robbed of any ethical justification for her own conduct. 


Moral Injury has been on my mind a lot the last few years. I think that the greatest damage from the Vietnam War has been the moral injury inflicted on its veterans. They in many cases did horrible things, under horrible conditions, and have never been able to feel that they were justified by a victory. Which is one reason why so many seem to love Donald Trump. He offers that absolution they crave - albeit by normalizing bullying behavior and xenophobia. 


The other reason is that my wife is an ICU nurse - and has been on the front lines of the Covid pandemic since the beginning. She has had to pronounce dozens of patients dead of Covid. And she has been screamed at, borderline assaulted in public, accused of faking the pandemic, bullied for not administering inappropriate medications, seen many of her staff quit due to burnout, worked 17 hour shifts, risked her life for nearly a year before vaccines became available. It has been a hard run, hard on her family, but especially on her. And one of those reasons is moral injury. Care has had to be rationed, and people have died in the emergency room waiting for beds because unvaccinated Covid patients were using them all. Nurses in particular have borne the brunt of the moral injury of the pandemic. Some of this was unavoidable, of course. But a combination of disastrous public policy decisions by the Trump Administration, the politicization of public health measures by the right wing, and vaccine refusals have led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. This is then compounded by the ongoing vilification of medical professionals as somehow a “conspiracy” to inflate Covid deaths, deny lifesaving treatments, and even cause deaths of patients. Two years of this and it has gotten so old. No, Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine do not cure Covid. (And I am pretty pissed that so many, my parents included, choose to believe this tripe.) Unfortunately, this whole episode will very likely contribute to nursing shortages for decades, at a time when an aging population and the effects of long Covid will increase the demand. Thanks so much for inflicting this shit on my family, Trump voters. 


There is plenty in this book about the peace process and the aftermath as well. I found this passage particularly intriguing, citing the Villiers report:


The continued existence of republican and loyalist outfits didn’t hurt the peace process - but helped it. It was because of the “authority” conferred by these persisting hierarchies that such groups were able to “influence, restrain, and manage” their members, the report maintained…


This is a lesson that the American Right seems to never want to learn. This stems from their black and white worldview, where the weaker party in asymmetrical warfare is always “evil.” “We do not negotiate with terrorists” they say. And then, we end up with Vietnam, and with Iran, and with the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan while we bail out after 20 years of losing. These groups do not exist in a vacuum; they arise out of the circumstances in place. Which means that winning a peace requires working with the groups that already exist. We somehow realized this when it came to World War Two - the Marshall plan didn’t put Americans in charge of Germany, but focused on rebuilding without Nazism. The worst of the war criminals were put on trial, but ordinary soldiers - even officers - were allowed to go home in peace. Which is why that war ended better than World War One. “Moral” victory led to a loss of the peace. 


I should close with a final concept that the author focuses on at the end of the book: Collective Denial. 


One theme that I had become fascinated with as a journalist was collective denial: the stories that communities tell themselves in order to cope with tragic or transgressive events. 


Right now, the US is in the midst of a major meltdown resulting from collective denial. Our nation was founded in part on noble principles of equality and self government and separation of church and state and human rights. But it was also founded on the enslavement of Africans, and on the genocide and displacement of Indigenous Americans. We fought an incredibly bloody war against ourselves over the issue of enslavement, and we have never actually dealt with that trauma in a constructive way. 


For the South, the “Lost Cause Myth” was invented to save the “honor” of the white people who were the Confederacy. It is emotionally difficult to accept that they were traitors who killed and died for the right of one color of human to “own” another. So they tell lies about what actually happened. But it isn’t just the South. In general, our nation continues to refuse to end the denial and take responsibility - including restitution - for what we have done and continue to do. As the voices of people of color, indigenous people, women, and LGBTQ people gain power, many are terrified and turn to hate and more denialism, to be enforced by the power of law. (See Texas and Florida and a plethora of right wing dominated states trying to suppress the truth about systemic racism and the existence of sexual minorities.) 


This is not a healthy coping mechanism, of course, and like all unhealthy psychological behaviors, it will lead to increasing dysfunction. And, like the Ireland before the troubles, doubling down on oppression and hate won’t lead to peace. It never has. And it never will. 


One final note: my wife and I started this book on audiobook. She continued with the audiobook, while I got the hard copy. The audiobook is narrated by Matthew Blaney, who has a delightful brogue - if you like audiobooks, you will love this one. I would have finished it on audio, but it was a digital version on my wife’s phone, and our schedules didn’t match up to listen together very often.