The Eruption That Changed the World

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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.

Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, ©2014
ISBN: 9780691168623
Branch Call Number: 551.21 WOO 2014
Characteristics: xiv, 293 pages : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 23 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
IndyPL_AnikaW Dec 04, 2018

In 1815 Mount Tambora erupted spectacularly in the Dutch West Indies (now Sumbawa, an island of Indonesia). 1816 is collectively known throughout the Western world as the "year without a summer" and cultural records indicate a lengthy and confusing period of time highlighted by vast unexplained climate change resulting in multiple-season crop failure, wide-spread famine, and, in Ireland, a typhoid epidemic that killed 65,000.

During the summer of 1816 a 19-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was on an extended tour of the Alps with, amongst others, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron...during several nights of this 'vacation' she would pen what would become the novel 'Frankenstein', whose publication turns 200 in 2018 and is being celebrated by a year of events by Indiana Humanities and Indiana libraries state-wide.

The monster at the center of Shelley's 'Frankenstein' has become a lumbering trope of modern horror; but, when examined as a part of the larger story of world-wide climate change and overlapping history (as well as within Shelley's own life story), the novel gains a new richness.

Fans of 'Frankenstein' should read this interesting multi-disciplinary analysis of the novel. Readers of natural history will find many parallels to contemporary analyses of climate change.

Nov 11, 2018

This is a scientific book that reads like a novel. I enjoyed every single page of it. Tambora, a volcano in Indonesia, erupted in April 1815 and it was such a massive eruption that it completely disrupted the weather in the Northern hemisphere for three years. Freezing cold, heavy, incessant rain, floods, harvest destruction caused a tragedy of unthinkable proportions: thousands of people starved to death in the USA Eastern Coast, Europe and China; there were food riots, massive migrations and epidemics of cholera and typhus. There were also other, less tragic consequences, like the advancement of discovery in the Arctic or the production of Frankenstein in 1816. It's a very modern book, where the dangers to which we as mankind are exposed because of global warming and climate change are clearly explained. It might be a good idea to read this book with Mary Shelley's The Last Man.

Jan 10, 2018

I have checked this out twice and enjoyed it each time.
The writer ties together a series of global consequences from the largest eruption of recorded human history, from starvation in China and Europe to the influence on art and, especially, the storms that forced Mary Shelly and her friends to stay inside and tell ghost stories, one of which became "Frankenstine."
I heartily recommend it if you're interested in volcanos, climate change, cultural history or natural disasters.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SL

To Top