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The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations | [Brian Fagan]

The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

The history of the Great Warming of a half millennium ago suggests that we may yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives todayand our vulnerability to drought, writes Fagan, is the silent elephant in the room.
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Publisher's Summary

A breakout best seller on how the earth's previous global warming phase reshaped human societies from the Arctic to the Sahara.

From the 10th to the 15th centuries, the earth experienced a rise in surface temperature that changed climate worldwide, a preview of today's global warming. In some areas, including Western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles as they traded precious iron goods. Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on earth. But in many parts of the world, the warm centuries brought drought and famine. Elaborate societies in western and Central America collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatn were left empty.

The history of the Great Warming of a half millennium ago suggests that we may yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives today - and our vulnerability to drought, writes Fagan, is the silent elephant in the room.

©2009 Brian Fagan (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Brian Fagan offers a unique contribution to this discussion [of climate change]...Readers should not underestimate this book, writing it off as another addition to a burgeoning genre: the travel guide to a torrid world. Fagan’s project is much bigger. He re-creates past societies in a lively and engaging manner, aided by his expert synthesis of obscure climatological data...In his ability to bring nature into our global, historical narratives, Fagan rivals...scholars who revealed to large audiences the explanatory power of microscopic biota or gross geography. Fagan promises to do the same for longterm climate dynamics...We would be fools to ignore his warnings.” (American Scholar)

What Members Say

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3.8 (56 )
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  •  
    Paul St. Louis, MO, United States 09-12-10
    Paul St. Louis, MO, United States 09-12-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book but unpracticed, disjointed narration."

    Ms. Gilbert reads this book with a premium on the enunciation of each word, with cohesiveness suffering badly. She's like a prancing pony; dancing all around the words and hitting the individual words with accuracy, but the sentences themselves (not to mention paragraphs) suffer from herky-jerky, over-enunciated discontinuity. Because of her untargeted verbal thrashings, she occasionally runs out of breath toward the end of the sentence! What now, young pony?

    It's like listening to a 10th-grader who's asked to read an unfamiliar passage for a speech audition. I'm going to have to buy the book, because listening to this audiobook is just not working.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth Ann Orlansky Northampton, MA, USA 04-25-13
    Ruth Ann Orlansky Northampton, MA, USA 04-25-13 Member Since 2009

    Audiobook Afficionado

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    "I Learned So Much Listening to this Book"

    This book is a fine, excellently-narrated history of a well-documented story of world-wide climate change, the Medieval Warming Period of 800-1300 AD. During this time, the Western European climate warmed to the point that more diverse crops could be planted and great explorations could be undertaken. During this time, the Vikings were able to settle Greenland, Iceland, and even go as far west as North America. The flip side of this climate change is also documented - great droughts in Western North America, Central America and South America, dooming Native American, Mayan and various South American civilizations. A very interesting, concise overview of the world-wide effects of a warming period, and speculation and warnings about what would be in store this time around should a similar event occur again. Very factual without being boring, alarmist or preachy. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Looney N St Paul, MN, US 09-01-12
    David Looney N St Paul, MN, US 09-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "A study of the obvious: Droughts kill people"
    Would you try another book from Brian Fagan and/or Tavia Gilbert?

    No. He is much too much in love with Al Gore


    What could Brian Fagan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Forget Al Gore. Droughts have been the bane of civilizations forever and they will continue to be. Al Gore and his buddies cannot do anything about it.Only a few of the stories he told were news. He didn't even mention the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire and the rise of Islam. That would be much more interesting than how the Easter Islanders ate themselves out of existance.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator did fine.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I am interested in why history happens and there were a few tidbits in there.


    Any additional comments?

    This guy needs to get out of his echo chamber and read his own material. Climate always changes

    1 of 12 people found this review helpful
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  • pj
    Brampton, United Kingdom
    3/1/12
    Overall
    "well researched"

    A fascinating piece of research and valuable history lesson.
    Maybe some of the chapter introductions are a bit flowery/misplaced and certainly the endless unit conversions (metres/miles/acres etc etc) don't work well in the audio book.
    The conclusion is simply mind-blowing in its self-contradictory rampant alarmism with added confusion between computer model outputs and actual reality. It really does set a gold standard for verbal diarrhoea but thankfully it's relatively brief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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