Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World by Gillen D'Arcy Wood, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World

Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World

3.5 2
by Gillen D'Arcy Wood
     
 

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"Gillen D'Arcy Wood's Tambora takes us on a fascinating journey through the world of 1815-17, when particles from the greatest volcanic eruption since the Ice Age lingered high in the atmosphere. This meticulously researched and beautifully written book ventures far beyond tales of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein to document an apocalyptic global

Overview

"Gillen D'Arcy Wood's Tambora takes us on a fascinating journey through the world of 1815-17, when particles from the greatest volcanic eruption since the Ice Age lingered high in the atmosphere. This meticulously researched and beautifully written book ventures far beyond tales of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein to document an apocalyptic global catastrophe that affected millions of people living as far afield as the Arctic and North America. Wood has crafted a powerful, definitive, and thought-provoking narrative."—Brian Fagan, author of The Attacking Ocean

"Stimulating and engaging, Tambora provides an excellent overview of the worldwide repercussions that followed the eruption of a single tropical volcano. Weaving together an abundance of newly gathered historical information, Wood emphasizes humanity's disquieting vulnerability to natural events. This book represents a marvelous piece of work."—Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, coauthor of Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions

"Wood makes the compelling case that the global effects of the Tambora eruption have been largely underappreciated—and the strength of his argument rests on the accumulation of evidence. Tambora is a rude awakening to the potential societal consequences of these fascinating geological events."—Guilherme Gualda, Vanderbilt University

"Tambora is a thought-provoking and original synthesis by an esteemed scholar that draws together vast amounts of previously unrelated material."—James Rodger Fleming, author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/17/2014
The greatest volcanic eruption of modern times occurred in 1815 on the small island of Tambora in the East Indies. It spawned the most extreme weather in thousands of years. In what contemporaries described as the “year without a summer,” its immense ash cloud encircled and cooled the Earth. While historians have mostly ignored the decades of worldwide misery, starvation, and disease that followed, Wood (The Shock of the Real), professor of English at the University of Illinois, remedies this oversight, combining a scientific introduction to volcanism with a vivid account of the eruption’s cultural, political, and economic impact that persisted throughout the century. Artists like Mary and Percy Shelly, Lord Byron, and John Constable shivered while they documented the miserable weather. Cooled oceans disrupted currents and altered rain patterns, producing famines from India to Ireland, a global cholera pandemic, an explosion of opium production in China, violent storms, and, paradoxically, an interlude of arctic warming much remarked upon by climate-change deniers. Soaring grain prices enriched the young United States, followed by its first and perhaps greatest depression when the ash cloud dispersed in 1819 and prices crashed. Wood delivers an enthralling study of the fragile interdependence of human and natural systems. Illus. (May)
From the Publisher
"The greatest volcanic eruption of modern times occurred in 1815 on the small island of Tambora in the East Indies. It spawned the most extreme weather in thousands of years. In what contemporaries described as the 'year without a summer,' its immense ash cloud encircled and cooled the Earth. While historians have mostly ignored the decades of worldwide misery, starvation, and disease that followed, Wood (The Shock of the Real), professor of English at the University of Illinois, remedies this oversight, combining a scientific introduction to volcanism with a vivid account of the eruption's cultural, political, and economic impact that persisted throughout the century."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The book is fluently-written, tightly constructed around a single event and a short time period, filled with interesting anecdotes about both well-known and obscure people, places, and evetns, and connects less-than-obvious dots. . . . [F]ascinating and easy-to-read. . . . Tambora is also interesting as a timely reminder of how interconnected our world is."—Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books

Library Journal
05/15/2014
Wood's (English, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770–1840) compelling and at times terrifying "cautionary tale" details the global effects of the April 1815 volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. Widespread devastation lasted several years after cold temperatures enveloped much of the world in the wake of a cloud of ash that exploded into the atmosphere. Crop yields dropped by 75 percent in Western Europe during 1816 and 1817, for example; an 1816–1818 famine in Ireland was ignored, Wood says, by city dwellers and the government until it caused typhus to reach their environs. The monsoon was almost absent in India in 1816, causing drought and famine, and the year after that the rains came three weeks early, causing a cholera outbreak that by the 1830s had claimed millions of victims. Wood also describes John Constable's and J.M.W. Turner's paintings of the vivid sunsets caused by the ash cloud. Literature was another beneficiary; Charles Dickens's "deep body memory of a volcanic childhood" is evident in the chilly London his characters toil in, and a cold, wet "European tour" detailed in the book resulted in dark works such as Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Mont Blanc" poem and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Fittingly, science made leaps, with the chaotic weather resulting in, for instance, the creation of the first weather maps. Readers can't help but be aware of the big picture as they read: small changes in temperature can have terrible and unexpected effects on society. An epilog ties the strands together, with the author noting that industrialization created "a profound climate illiteracy among the political class" that will be our ruination. VERDICT This extremely detailed work draws together disparate events in a fascinating way. It's in-depth enough for climate science students and offers something different for those wishing to know more about romantic literature; at the same time the work is accessible for popular-science readers. For large public libraries and academic collections.—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691150543
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
04/27/2014
Pages:
312
Sales rank:
493,529
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Gillen D'Arcy Wood is professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he directs the Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities. He has written extensively on the cultural and environmental history of the nineteenth century.

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