"Climate change is the ignored player on the historical stage," writes archeologist Brian Fagan. But it shouldn't be, not if we know what's good for us. We can't judge what future climate change will mean unless we know something about its effects in the past: "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". And Fagan's story of the last thousand years, centered on the "Little Ice Age," reminds us of what we could end up repeating: flood, fire, and famine--acts of God exacerbated by acts of man.
For all that he takes a broad--a very broad--view of European history, Fagan's writing is laced with human faces, fascinating anecdotes, and a gift for the telling detail that makes history live, very much in the style of Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror. When Fagan talks about the voyages of Basque fishermen to American shores (probably landing before Columbus sailed), he puts in the taste of dried cod and the terrifying suddenness of fogs on the Grand Banks. The Great Fire of London, what it was like when the Dutch dikes broke, the Irish Potato Famine, the year without a summer, ice fairs on the Thames, and volcanoes in the South Pacific--Fagan makes history a ripping yarn in which we are all actors, on a stage that has always been changing. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The role of climatic change in human history remains open to question, due in large part to scant data. Fagan, professor of archeology at UC Santa Barbara, contributes substantively to the increasingly urgent debate. Contending with the dearth of accurate weather records from a few parts of the world, for little over a century Fagan (Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El Ni?o and the Fate of Civilizations) draws discerning connections between an amazing array of disparate sources: ice cores, tree rings, archeological digs, tithing records that show dates of wine harvests, cloud types depicted in portraits and landscapes over time. He details human adaptation to meteorologic events for example, the way the Dutch, in the face of rising sea levels, engineered sea walls and thus increased their farmland by a third between the late 16th and early 19th centuries. Explanations of phenomena like the North Atlantic Oscillation (which "governs... the rain that falls on Europe") lucidly advance Fagan's conviction that, though science cannot decide if the current 150-year warming trend (with one slight interruption) is part of a normal cycle, we should err on the side of caution. His study of the potential for widespread famine further bolsters his nonpartisan argument for a serious consideration of rapid climatic shifts. But Fagan doesn't proffer a sociopolitical polemic. He notes that we lack the political will to effect change, but refrains from speculating on future environmental policy. Illus. not seen by PW. (Mar. 1) Forecast: This topical book will appeal to fans of John McPhee, as well as to science and history scholars. With publicity targeted at the coasts (author tour in L.A., San Francisco and N.Y.; a talk at N.Y.'s Museum of Natural History), a forthcoming review in Discovery magazine and Fagan's enthusiastic readership, it should sell well.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I found this book very interesting. Having a meteorological background, I was very pleased to read that the author got his explanations right. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jack Dennahower
The Little Ice Age is an examination of the effects of the five hundred year long period from 1300 to 1800, when Europe suffered through a period of intense and unstable weather. Read morePublished on March 10 2003 by John D. Cofield
If you're looking for a profound re-examination of climatic history, then this isn't it. The book is more a listing of (interesting) facts, with some insight into the way... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2003
As a meteorologist, I take special interest in books such as this which relate weather to the bigger picture of world history and events. Read morePublished on Nov. 28 2002 by Donald Giuliano
The only week part of the book is the last chapter which makes the ususal liberal environmental statement... Read morePublished on July 29 2002
I enjoyed the theories that Fagan brought across in this book, but I felt that the writing was somewhat lacking in certain aspects. I feel that this book was poorly organized. Read morePublished on June 15 2002 by hamilcar barca
This book describes the climatic hardships experienced by the Western world during the period 1300 to 1850, known informally as The Little Ice Age. Read morePublished on June 4 2002 by M. A Michaud
I really liked this book but its not perfect. There's a bit of weather theory here, and lots of concrete information, but its never really organized in a way to prove the author's... Read morePublished on March 2 2002 by Erik Strommen
I have seldom read in a book that claims to be scientific so much superficial rubish. Fagan has incursioned, once again, in the difficult field of climatology and has done the... Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2002 by William Grierson