Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World

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When Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano’s massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale.

Here, Gillen D’Arcy Wood traces Tambora’s global and historical reach: how the volcano’s three-year climate change regime initiated the first worldwide cholera pandemic, expanded opium markets in China, and plunged the United States into its first economic depression. Bringing the history of this planetary emergency to life, Tambora sheds light on the fragile interdependence of climate and human societies to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.

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"Gillen D'Arcy Wood's Tambora takes us on a fascinating journey through the world of 1815-17, when particles from the greatest volcanic eruption since the Ice Age lingered high in the atmosphere. This meticulously researched and beautifully written book ventures far beyond tales of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein to document an apocalyptic global catastrophe that affected millions of people living as far afield as the Arctic and North America. Wood has crafted a powerful, definitive, and thought-provoking narrative."--Brian Fagan, author of The Attacking Ocean

"Stimulating and engaging, Tambora provides an excellent overview of the worldwide repercussions that followed the eruption of a single tropical volcano. Weaving together an abundance of newly gathered historical information, Wood emphasizes humanity's disquieting vulnerability to natural events. This book represents a marvelous piece of work."--Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, coauthor of Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions

"Wood makes the compelling case that the global effects of the Tambora eruption have been largely underappreciated--and the strength of his argument rests on the accumulation of evidence. Tambora is a rude awakening to the potential societal consequences of these fascinating geological events."--Guilherme Gualda, Vanderbilt University

"Tambora is a thought-provoking and original synthesis by an esteemed scholar that draws together vast amounts of previously unrelated material."--James Rodger Fleming, author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control

About the Author:

Gillen D'Arcy Wood is professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he directs the Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities.

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