The Year Without Summer

The Year Without Summer

1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History

Book - 2013
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Like Winchester's Krakatoa, The Year Without Summer reveals a year of dramatic global change long forgotten by history

In the tradition of Krakatoa , The World Without Us , and Guns, Germs and Steel comes a sweeping history of the year that became known as 18-hundred-and-froze-to-death. 1816 was a remarkable year--mostly for the fact that there was no summer. As a result of a volcanic eruption in Indonesia, weather patterns were disrupted worldwide for months, allowing for excessive rain, frost, and snowfall through much of the Northeastern U.S. and Europe in the summer of 1816.

In the U.S., the extraordinary weather produced food shortages, religious revivals, and extensive migration from New England to the Midwest. In Europe, the cold and wet summer led to famine, food riots, the transformation of stable communities into wandering beggars, and one of the worst typhus epidemics in history. 1816 was the year Frankenstein was written. It was also the year Turner painted his fiery sunsets. All of these things are linked to global climate change--something we are quite aware of now, but that was utterly mysterious to people in the nineteenth century, who concocted all sorts of reasons for such an ungenial season.

Making use of a wealth of source material and employing a compelling narrative approach featuring peasants and royalty, politicians, writers, and scientists, The Year Without Summer by William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman examines not only the climate change engendered by this event, but also its effects on politics, the economy, the arts, and social structures.

Publisher: New York :, St. Martin's Press,, 2013.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780312676452
Branch Call Number: 551.2109598 KL
Characteristics: 338 pages ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Klingaman, Nicholas P.


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Dec 07, 2017

This is a wonderful book full of great details and historical background. It shows how one far away meteorological disaster can reach worldwide to create havoc. The volcano proved to be a perfect storm which was a nightmare for the many who perished not only from the volcano itself but from its far reaching consequences. A riveting read, highly recommended.

Sep 16, 2014

I agree entirely with the previous review. A very good start but becomes very dull after that. For a book with a strong geographical basis there is not one map or diagram in the book. A map may have helped one reviewer quoted on the cover who placed Indonesia in the Pacific Ocean. Disappointing.

Mar 22, 2014

Sorry, but this is pretty boring. Not recommended unless you have a serious historical interest in this time period. The first chapter is good and discusses the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia, and how the ash from the eruption eventually blocked sunlight and cooled global temperatures in 1816. However the rest of the book is a series of dry facts about rainfall, temperatures and harvests in the U.S. and Europe in 1816. It's like reading a Farmer's Almanac. A few historical figures are discussed from Napoleon to Lord Byron, but again it's not compelling to read. If you want a better book about a volcanic eruption in the 1800's, I would recommend Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester.


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