The Last Volcano: A Man, a Romance, and the Quest to Understand Nature's Most Magnificent Fury

The Last Volcano: A Man, a Romance, and the Quest to Understand Nature's Most Magnificent Fury

by John Dvorak


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Volcanoes have fascinated—and terrified—us for ages. They have destroyed cities and ended civilizations. This exemplary new book explores the early scientific study of volcanoes, as well as the life of Thomas Jaggar, the man who pioneered the field.

Educated at Harvard, Jaggar went to the Caribbean after Mount Pelée exploded in 1902, killing more than 26,000 people. Witnessing the destruction and learning about the horrible deaths these people had suffered, Jaggar vowed to dedicate himself to the study of volcanoes. In 1912, he built a small science station at the edge of a lake of molten lava at Kilauea volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, with the goal of solving the mystery of why volcanoes erupt and how they could be predicted. Jaggar found something else at Kilauea, too: true love.

She was Isabel Maydwell, a widowed school teacher who came to Kilauea to restart her life. Maydwell would quickly become one of the world’s most astute observers of volcanic activity.

Mixed with tales of myths and rituals, as well as the author’s own experiences and insight into volcanic activity, The Last Volcano reveals the lure and romance of confronting nature in its most magnificent form.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681772981
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 01/24/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Originally trained as a lunar scientist, John Dvorak, PhD, spent twenty years operating a large telescope at Mauna Kea for the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.  His writing has appeared as cover stories for Scientific American, Astronomy and Physics Today.  His books include Earthquake Storms and The Last Volcano, both available from Pegasus Books.

Table of Contents

Prologue: A City has Perished xv

1 The Bishop's Son 1

2 Yellowstone 15

3 The Caribbean 34

4 Champagne 56

5 Vesuvius 69

6 Alaska 89

7 The Pacific World 106

8 Into the Cauldron 126

9 A Dream Fulfilled 148

10 A Love Lost 165

11 The School Teacher 185

12 The Lava Lake 202

13 Mauna Loa 221

14 The Goddess 239

15 The Last Volcano 251

16 A Forgotten Legacy 271

Postscript 285

Acknowledgments 289

Sources 297

Index 305

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