Journalist and novelist Schreiner (The Passionate Beechers, The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln) investigates a growing scientific field at the intersection of natural and historical cycles, an area he describes as both humbling and energizing. In this wide-ranging work, he looks at researchers from a number of different disciplines who have explored cycles of astronomy, the weather, business and politics. Edward Dewey, a field leader who started the Foundation for the Study of Cycles (FSC) in 1971, discovered 10 cycles that turn "every 5.91 years," including "business failures since 1857, combined stock prices since 1871, grouse abundance since 1848, and sunspots since 1749." While Schreiner finds these correlations intriguing, he is careful to hew close to physicist Richard Feynman's caveat that "the proper scientific assumption to start with is that they occur by chance"; on the other hand, Schreiner is able to confirm, personally, the prediction an FSC researcher, Fergus J. Wood, who successfully predicted a number of floods based on lunar-solar cycles. More dubious are correlations between solar activity and historical occurrences, but this primer on a developing field is fresh and intriguing.
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