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The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 Paperback – December 24, 2001
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Nevertheless the climate of the time proved difficult and overall was uniformly cooler, often considerably so, than the time before and afterwards. The Little Ice Age was an era when there used to be winter fairs on the frozen River Thames during the time of King Charles II, one that produced the great gales that devastated the Spanish Armada in 1588, was when George Washington's Continental Army endured a brutal winter in Valley Forge in 1777-1778, when pack ice surrounded Iceland for much of the year, when Alpine glaciers destroyed villages and advanced kilometers from their present positions, when hundreds of poor died of hypothermia regularly every winter in London late into the 19th century.Read more ›
The interesting question is to what extent did these climatic shifts alter the course of European history?
In some distinct cases, in my opinion, the answer is quite clear-cut. Norse settlement in Greenland, for example, became impossible because of the cooler temperatures after the 13th century. Famine in rural areas throughout the Middle Ages was also an undisputed consequence of sudden weather shifts. The damage done to the Spanish Armada in 1588 by two savage storms is patently climatic in origin, too.
In most cases, however, the climate is just one - mostly minor - factor out of many that contributed to the occurrence of major historical events like the French Revolution, for example. Fagan rightly calls climatic change "a subtle catalyst." Finally, if we look at historical developments that unfolded over centuries - like the Renaissance or the making of modern Europe - the influence of the climate does not explain anything.
A book like Fagan's "The Little Ice Age" is most interesting for historians who examine grass roots history, such as the daily lives of farmers and fishermen in the Middle Ages. At first I thought the climate would provide answers for economic historians, too. But as Fagan shows, the human response to deteriorating weather differs widely from region to region.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fagan is able to place his reader in the period he's writing about. Wish I hadn't given this away as I'd read it again. Very interesting and informative.Published 1 month ago by Diana
Later saying that we are as vulnerable as in 1315, the book starts rain and famine in 1315, ending with the Irish potato famine in the 1840s and resulting migrations. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gderf
Great book it is better that the program on history channel very detailed book i loved it
I bought this book because I expected to enjoy it, but although I read the whole thing, only one chapter, on the Irish Famine, actually held my interest. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Evelyn Uyemura
I found this book very interesting and went back over parts to really get it. Who knew that studying the paintings of artists of the era would be a clue to the weather? Read morePublished 8 months ago by Judith Doreen Jones
This book explains very well how the troubles people had centuries ago were not so much caused by extreme cold weather, including late frosts and short growing seasons, but how... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mel S.
In this time when everyone screams about global warming it was fascinating to read that they used to grow grapes, something I think of as being in warm areas of France, quite far... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Chris