The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850
by Brian Fagan
Reading or watching the news over the past decade or two, you cannot escape talk of climate change. Brian Fagan’s short book The Little Ice Age, despite being about a cool period starting from the late middle ages to the 19th century, fits right in with modern times with the book’s emphasis on how climate has affected the human civilization in the past and, ultimately, continues to do so today. His book focuses on European history, but North America, Asia, and Africa get a few mentions as well. I read this book for the History Roundtable’s Natural Disasters-themed October meeting. And there are a lot of natural disasters mentioned! The most explosive is Mt. Tambora in Indonesia which is considered the deadliest volcanic explosion in human history. Its effects included the “year without summer” in 1816 in the eastern United States and in Europe when crops failed and famine and disease weren’t far behind in some countries. Fagan writes clearly and concisely making what could be an esoteric topic understandable by the layman.
The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History by Brian Fagan
The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano that Darkened the World and Changed History by William K. Klingaman