A sweeping, absorbing history of nature's power.

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A FURIOUS SKY

THE FIVE-HUNDRED-YEAR HISTORY OF AMERICA'S HURRICANES

How hurricanes have indelibly shaped America's land and society.

Drawing on abundant sources, including material from the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service, and Hurricane Research Division, and with an academic background in environmental policy, Dolin, who has a doctorate in environmental policy, offers an authoritative and lively history of hurricanes, beginning with 15th-century storms and ending with major hurricanes of 2017 and a brief account of Hurricane Dorian of last year. Besides chronicling the tense period leading up to landfall, the violent impact, the immediate responses, and the long-term recoveries, the author offers a fascinating history of weather forecasting, which was revolutionized by the telegraph in the mid-19th century. The Smithsonian Institution became the first repository of meteorological information when telegraph operators were instructed to send a message each morning describing the weather: cloudy, fair, or rainy. Soon, they added readings from meteorological instruments, making their forecasts more useful. In 1870, the U.S. Army Signal Corps took over weather forecasting, creating maps that could “predict the progression of weather over time.” But accuracy eluded forecasters until airplanes, satellites, radar, and computers came into play—and even then, controversy sometimes erupted about the intensity and course of a storm. Dolin traces many major events: “a storm surge of biblical proportions” in Galveston, Texas, in 1900; the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926; the Labor Day Hurricane that swept through the Florida Keys in 1935; the “sudden, jarring, widespread, and devastating” Great Hurricane of 1938; Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Katrina in 2005, and Sandy, which besieged New York City in 2012. Efforts to control hurricanes, such as seeding clouds with dry ice or silver iodide, failed. Other proposals, such as towing icebergs from the Arctic to cool the ocean and diminish a storm’s energy, were “outlandish and totally impractical.” Dolin underscores the threat of global warming to worsen hurricanes and urges society to act quickly and boldly “to counter this threat in any way we can.”

A sweeping, absorbing history of nature's power. (118 illustrations)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63149-527-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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