- Hardcover: 406 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521641128
- ISBN-13: 978-0521641128
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Eruptions that Shook the World 1st Edition
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"I have to thank God on my knees that Oppenheimer's book did not exist at the time I made my decision to become a filmmaker. I might have become a volcanologist instead." Werner Herzog, Film director and producer
"With his characteristic sparkling brilliance, Oppenheimer expertly recasts the latest scientific findings on how volcanoes work as a compelling and readable account that conveys the enduring human fascination for Nature's fiery outbursts and their capacity to transform life on this planet." Professor Iain Stewart, Geologist and BBC TV presenter
"In his explosive book Clive Oppenheimer brilliantly shows how the history of volcanoes and people is a tangled account. From our earliest ancestors to travellers battling with the effects of ash clouds on airline flights, our evolutionary destiny has been played out in the shadow of volcanoes, often with disastrous results." Professor Clive Gamble, Archaeologist, Royal Holloway, University of London
"This is forensic geology in the widest sense and an exciting guided tour of the major volcanic and climatic disasters experienced by human kind. Oppenheimer has a rare talent for bringing the science and history together in a clear and engaging way." Professor Michael Rampino, Geologist, New York University
"Writing in his inimitably lively and witty style, Clive Oppenheimer takes us through deep time and deep into volcanoes, teaching us how they work and demonstrating how powerful eruptions have often jostled the human toehold on survival. This tour de force is an astonishingly provocative roadmap to the once and future history of Earth." Dr. Dave Pieri, Volcanologist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
"Oppenheimer romps through the geological past, detailing some of the major volcanic events and their global impact. ... well worth diving into." Kate Ravilious, New Scientist
"The hellfire-and-brimstone case studies ... seem like a product of a Hollywood screenwriter's imagination ... only they describe real events." Laurence A Marschall, Natural History October 2011
"Set out to make the average reader's murky perception of volcanoes a bit clearer, and managed to write a compelling tome fit for any to enjoy, coming as close to brilliant storytelling as a scientist is able...The more dry explanations were succinct, the exciting bits explored thoroughly and boredom averted completely. Oppenheimer made his prose modern by drawing comparisons with carefully chosen pop culture terms and euphemisms that should stay relevant for some time to come. 5 OUT OF 5 STARS" Meredith Greene, San Francisco Book Review
"Oppenheimer uses all sorts of evidence to unravel the stories behind some of the greatest and most significant volcanic cataclysms. ... I recommend Eruptions That Shook the World" Don L. Anderson, Physics Today
"...Oppenheimer explores the entanglement of human history and volcanic activity with rare and insightful brilliance....This book should be on the shelves of all volcanologists, historians, and environmental planners. It is a lively read for all citizens concerned with human futures." -T. L. T. Grose, CHOICE
Did volcanic eruptions extinguish the dinosaurs and shape human civilisation? Clive Oppenheimer explores the greatest volcanic events of the past quarter of a billion years, using rich geological, historical, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records. His forensic approach to volcanology links cause and effect, providing important lessons for future catastrophe risk management.
Top customer reviews
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I never feel it’s fair to downrate a book just because the author didn’t write the book I expected, and I actually endorse most of the highly positive reviews for this book. It is very readable for a textbook, and provides a lot of interesting information about exactly how volcanoes work (as best we know). For instance, he goes into quite a bit more detail than anything else I’ve read so far (and I love geology) about how magma changes underground, how volatile components like water and gases interact with liquid magma, and how this process can trigger an eruption. Also for instance, I knew that when magma melts, the minerals with the lowest melting point melt first, but it had not previously dawned on me that this means when magma crystallizes, the minerals with the *highest* melting point crystallize first. (Common sense, but no one had ever pointed it out!)
A big part of the book is on how volcanoes of various types affect climate, economics, and history, and what this means for our potential future. Many of the issues are complex, and there’s considerable debate on many of them, but Dr. Oppenheimer goes into detail on historical case studies, explains all sides clearly, and tells you what he thinks is most important. I was impressed. (I have an advanced degree in biological sciences, by the way, but I’ve studied a fair amount of geology along the way.)
I was actually looking for a comprehensive tour of all the great volcanoes of history, so this book didn’t meet my needs. The information on how volcanoes work and how they can affect the world was excellent, but if anyone is familiar with the basics and wants a travelogue, this isn’t it.
I took a star off my rating because there were parts of the Kindle edition that were seriously annoying. (Again these aren’t the fault of the author.) First, the photos in this book were TERRIBLE and well below the standard of current technology. They were tiny (a couple of inches wide), fuzzy, and all black and white. It was very hard to see what they were supposed to show. I certainly hope the photos in the printed edition were much better. Second, for some reason, the photo captions were in text identical in size and font to the book text — making them hard to differentiate — but any mathematical or other equations were in type so extremely tiny that they were nearly invisible. Literally all I could see was a thin, bumpy line of gray. These are both problems with the Kindle formatting, and whoever made them come out this way should be made to do them over and do it right.
I would recommend this book to someone who wants to learn more than what an overview would provide. Perfect for the amateur or arm chair geologist, but again, it's not light reading. However, you feel like you definitely know more when you get to the end.
One caveat: if you buy the Kindle edition, as I did, the various charts are unreadable. The Kindles pixel definition is insufficiently fine grained to render the charts readable, even with a magnifying glass!
The story is well researched and referenced. It is a wonder how life continues on this restless earth and the atmoshere above it. It is reassuring that geologists internationally are collaborating with historians to understand nature. We are given some idea how fragile surival is and how we still have hope to survive.
The reader can be lifted into an exciting realm of scientific research, mixed with other disciplines on a scholarly level.