The Weather Factor: How Nature Has Changed History

Overview

From the author of The Hinge Factor comes a thrilling, page-turning series of dramatic historical re-creations revealing how the fate of humankind has often been decided by the uncontrollable, unpredictable power of weather. From the doomed campaigns of the Roman legions and Napoleon to the fate of US forces in the South Pacific and Vietnam, torrential rain, brutal winters, monster typhoons, and killer hurricanes have had far-reaching—and often terrifying—consequences. 

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Overview

From the author of The Hinge Factor comes a thrilling, page-turning series of dramatic historical re-creations revealing how the fate of humankind has often been decided by the uncontrollable, unpredictable power of weather. From the doomed campaigns of the Roman legions and Napoleon to the fate of US forces in the South Pacific and Vietnam, torrential rain, brutal winters, monster typhoons, and killer hurricanes have had far-reaching—and often terrifying—consequences. 

As Erik Durschmied vividly describes in heart-stopping vignettes, the elements have influenced human history even more than the spear, bullet, or atomic bomb. Drawing upon extensive research, as well as the author’s own experiences in Vietnam, The Weather Factor gives a fascinating account of the inevitable collision between weather fronts and human conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Accounts of how the weather has affected human history (mostly military) from Noah to 'Nam. Durschmied (The Hinge Factor, not reviewed) returns to the field of what-if history with descriptions of 15 events whose outcomes were altered by the weather. Only one-the Irish potato famine in the 1840s-deals in detail with a nonmilitary matter, and he is certainly not interested in the weather's impact on cultural history (e.g., Shelley's drowning at sea in a storm). The author begins with the Flood and proceeds chronologically through his material. And so we learn how a ferocious thunderstorm contributed to the destruction of the Roman legions of Varus (a.d. 9), how in 1281 a typhoon sank 3,500 ships packed with Mongol invaders headed for Japan, and how in 1795 some cavalry captured some warships frozen in ice. We see Tecumseh thwarted by fog, Napoleon by Russia's "General Winter," Germans (WWI) by avalanche, Admiral Halsey by typhoon. We see fair weather facilitating D-day (in one and a half pages) and turning the tide of the Battle of the Bulge (the best section: informed, richly detailed, exciting). In the Vietnam chapter, Durschmied adopts the first person and relates some of his own experiences. His prose is often breathless, pedantic, and even purple. "Somewhere east of China," he begins one section, "over the endless Pacific Ocean, the sun burns down on an oily sea." He romanticizes military achievement, blissfully mixes metaphors ("What really took place that day is buried in the mists of time"), and seems unaware that the term "hag" (twice employed to refer to elderly women) is today a tad inappropriate. His conclusions are often patent and sometimes hit the red zone ontheDUH-Meter (e.g., "Man can be victorious against fellow man, but when confronted by the unleashed forces of nature, he stands powerless"). A great idea, much research, but overwrought and overwritten. (12 maps)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611454390
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 963,285
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Erik Durschmied is a military historian and award-winning journalist who has been a correspondent for Newsweek as well as the BBC and CBS. He has personally covered wars and revolutions in Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He lives in France.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

Acknowledgements xi

Prologue 1

The Bible tells us so 3

The lost legions of Varus 9

The Divine Wind 39

The night it rained on Paris 55

The frozen armada 73

A brave called tecumseh 87

Two bridges to cross 107

The Great Potato Famine 128

The white death 147

The week the panzers froze 167

Unexpected new developments 215

For those in peril on the sea 217

A deluge of fire 237

The wind factor 273

Death in the Delta 279

'Owning the Weather in 2025' 294

Bibliography 308

Index 315

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