Synopses & Reviews
In 1997 and early 1998, one of the most powerful El Niños ever recorded disrupted weather patterns all over the world. Europe suffered through a record freeze as the American West was hit with massive floods and snowstorms; in the western Pacific, meanwhile, some island nations literally went bone dry and had to have water flown in on transport planes.Such effects are not new: climatologists now know the El Niño and other climate anomalies have been disrupting weather patterns throughout history. But until recently, no one had asked how this new understanding of the global weather system related to archaeology and history. Droughts, floods, heat and cold put stress on cultures and force them to adapt. What determines whether they adapt successfully? How do these climate stresses affect a people’s faith in the foundations of their society and the legitimacy of their rulers? How vulnerable is our own society to climate change?In this dazzlingly original new book, archaeologist Brian Fagan shows that short-term climate shifts have been a majorand hitherto unrecognizedforce in history. El Niño-driven droughts have brought on the collapse of dynasties in Egypt; El Niño monsoon failures have caused historic famines in India; and El Niño floods have destroyed whole civilizations in Peru. Other short-term climate changes may have caused the mysterious abandonment of the Anasazi dwellings in the American Southwest and the collapse of the ancient Maya empire, as well as changed the course of European history.This beautifully written, groundbreaking book opens a new door on our understanding of historical events.
In 1997-98, El Nino disrupted weather patterns the world over. Europe suffered a record freeze, the American West was hit by terrible floods and snowstorms, and drought brought famine to East Africa and forest fires to Southeast Asia.
In this groundbreaking work of "historical meteorology", Brian Fagan shows that these events were neither isolated nor new: El Nino has been wreaking intermittent havoc for at least five millennia. Integrating weather science, archeology, and the narrative gifts of a born storyteller, Fagan shows how dramatic shifts in climate have shaped peoples, places, and history since the dawn of time.
Archaeologist Brian Fagan shows that short-term climate shifts, far have been a majorand hitherto unrecognizedforce in history
About the Author
Brian Fagan is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he has written many internationally acclaimed popular books about archaeology, including The Little Ice Age, Floods, Famines, and Emperors, and The Long Summer. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.