Book 216: Vulcan’s Fury by Alwyn Scarth

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Vulcan’s Fury: Man Against The Volcano by Alwyn Scarth

Finished reading on June 15th, 2016

Rating: 10/10

Volcano eruptions to someone who lives quite far away from any active (or non-active for that matter), seem like a distant and not too great of a threat – you might hear of them in the news or hear them mentioned in some context, but I guess they’re really relevant when you live right next to one.

I’ve never had to really think of the dangers of volcano eruptions and the hundreds of ways that a “fire mountain” can kill someone, but this book brought some of the deadliest eruptions right to me in very vivid graphic descriptions that also included ones from eyewitnesses.

Scarth doesn’t go into great depths about volcanoes in general, but gives the basics and then dives into some of the most famous (and some that seemed quite obscure) eruptions, what the people living in and near the danger-zone saw and felt and how it disturbed life elsewhere.

As you get to the eruption events you also get more specific information about the volcano at hand – Vesuvius, Stromboli, Laki, Pinatubo etc, to name just a few. The events are at a chronological order, so you can also feel how times change and living conditions change, and how that influences how people act etc.

The descriptions were very interesting, but what was most fascinating to me was how many times darkness was mentioned – that’s a detail that I wouldn’t have thought of; and also psychology – why would people who know of something is going to happen soon, wouldn’t leave their homes.

Great book, well illustrated, not technical at all.

I read this book for work purposes, but I imagine it would be fascinating for any intelligent person ūüôā

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The closest I’ve been to volcanoes has been on my trips to Italy and to Iceland. In case of Italy I didn’t actually see any, but that’s still closer than normally, when they’re about 1500 km away. In case of Iceland I could see several in the distance on a Golden Circle tour and also when flying over Iceland.

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Hekla in the distance, one of many Icelandic volcanoes not in the book, but you can’t have them all, right? Photo¬†from my 2015 trip.

Book 198: Island on Fire by A. Witze and J. Kanipe

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Island on Fire by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe

Published in 2014 by Profile Books

Finished reading on January 23rd, 2016

Rating: 9/10

This book’s main topic is the 1783 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Laki that caused a lot of death and destruction in Iceland and might have been a¬†reason behind the hot foggy summer ¬†and cold snowy winter¬†in Europe that year.

In addition to covering Laki, you can also find out more about some of the other volcanoes in Iceland and also some other deadly volcano eruptions across the world and how they influenced the weather patterns etc.

I found the book excellent reading material – interesting details and detours and you’re not stuck in Iceland the whole book. You get quite a good idea of how volcanoes can affect climate and how climate change can cause quite difficult times everywhere.

It was interesting, but it’s also something you might not want to read right before bedtime, as there are rather scary descriptions of deformities caused by ingesting fluorine from water or food polluted by volcanic ash etc.

The book makes you see that we live on a very active planet with lots of fire mountains just waiting to cast their ash cloud over normal everyday life.