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Island on Fire


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The 1783 eruption of Laki led to Europe's year without summer - and it is due again soon

About the Author

Alexandra Witze is a contributing editor to Science News and past US bureau chief for Nature. Jeff Kanipe is the author of Chasing Hubble's Shadow and Cosmic Connection.


A volcanic tour de force: terrific story-telling that reveals our vulnerability to nature's most destructive forces. -- Nick Crane
Deftly interweaving information compiled by naturalists and astronomers of the day ... with interviews with modern-day scientists and historians, the authors provide a captivating overview of an eruption. * Science News *
A compelling and engrossing story of Laki and its worldwide impact. As the best book authors do, they have also ferreted out facts and examples that make their specific story one with implications for modern readers. * The Seattle Times *
A terrific, disturbing book. In their fast-paced, enjoyable text the authors show how vulnerable we remain to the most unpredictable of natural disasters. -- Gillian Darley, author of Vesuvius
Much of the research is amazing and is deftly woven into a strong narrative. The result is a book that is steeped in science, but also history and the stories of people affected by a little-known landmark event. -- Tom Henry * SEJournal *
Island on Fire was the perfect book ... I've read a lot of novels which didn't hold my attention in quite the same way. * The Bookbag *
Human drama and tragedy mix with science here. The science may enlighten readers with no prior knowledge of volcanism, but the human story carries the book. * Dallas Morning News *
A compelling and readable account that is readily accessible and illuminating, and provides some fascinating examples of the intersections between volcanoes, humans and society....Succeeds as a 'popular science' text, covering complex aspects of science with a light touch, [yet] a useful source book for students of geography, Earth and environmental science. -- David Pyle, volcanologist, University of Oxford, on his Volcanic Degassing blog
This book...won us over....Witze and Kanipe skilfully interweave the science of the "bigger picture" (including modern-day climate change) with the human story of Jon Steingrimsson, a priest and early volcanologist who recorded the devastating effects that Laki's eruption had on his parish. -- Top 10 books of 2014 * Physics World *

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