• Nature's Mutiny

  • How the Little Ice Age of the Long Seventeenth Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present
  • By: Philipp Blom
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

An illuminating work of environmental history that chronicles the great climate crisis of the 1600s, which transformed the social and political fabric of Europe. 

Although hints of a crisis appeared as early as the 1570s, the temperature by the end of the 16th century plummeted so drastically that Mediterranean harbors were covered with ice, birds literally dropped out of the sky, and "frost fairs" were erected on a frozen Thames - with kiosks, taverns, and even brothels that become a semi-permanent part of the city. 

Recounting the deep legacy and far-ranging consequences of this "Little Ice Age", acclaimed historian Philipp Blom reveals how the European landscape had subtly, but ineradicably, changed by the mid-17th century. While apocalyptic weather patterns destroyed entire harvests and incited mass migrations, they gave rise to the growth of European cities, the emergence of early capitalism, and the vigorous stirrings of the Enlightenment. A timely examination of how a society responds to profound and unexpected change, Nature's Mutiny will transform the way we think about climate change in the 21st century and beyond.

©2017 Carl Hanser Verlag München; translation copyright 2019 by Carl Hanser Verlag München (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Nature's Mutiny

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Quite Worthwhile

Excellent exposition on climate change and its immediate and long term effects. Demonstrates once again that climate is not stable or predictable. The author's thesis that society was irreversibly changed through required adaptation was well supported. The idea that philosophy was also significantly altered is presented well but has, in my opinion one significant fault. There was a fairly clear bias against theistic philosophy with the author sometimes reaching deep to move atheism to the forefront of philosophical thought. Other than that the author was by and large successful in excluding most other modern day viewpoint biases.

I highly recommend this book due to historical accuracy and diligent supporting research. Besides that, it flows well and is entertaining!

4 people found this helpful

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A must read for anyone who cares about a future.

This is the best book I have read this year. A wonderful history of the past that we must learn by if we are to survive.

4 people found this helpful

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fascinating, however disjointed, history

5☆ if the book knew what it was supposed to be about.

it is equally:
- indictment of capitalism
- history
- ecology
- philosophy
- telling of catastrophic happenings when temperatures dropped 3° between 1650 & 1750.

Howard B

1 person found this helpful

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Not much content

Starts out great, little ice age, weather, famine, effects. Then devolves into the entire Renaissance history and glosses over how the little ice age figures in. Loooooooong.

4 people found this helpful

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Climate Change in the Late Middle Ages

The Little Ice Age was not man caused like our current climate change crisis. However man's response to the changes in temperature and growing seasons was very important to human survival.

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A potpourri if history from 1570 to 1680

I was hoping to read/listen to an environmental history describing how the "Little Ice Age" acted as a catalyst to fundamental change in Europe and the Netherlands in particular. That is not what Blom presents. This is a collection of historical anecdotes about personalities and events from roughly 1570 to 1680. Blom presents brief snippents of information about witches, the Tuiip price balloon, Voltaire, Rembrandt, Locke, Spinoza, Montaigne, and many other personalities from the late 16th and early 17th century. Blom only rarely even tries to connect their lives to the Little Ice Age. If anyone wants to read a proper anlaysis of the tremendous balloon market for tuilips, read or listen to Schama's "An Embarassment of Riches." For a description of what the Little Ice Age was and how it affected Europe and the Dutch Republic specifically, read DeGroot's 2018 "The Frigid Golden Age: Climate change, the Little Ice Age, and the Dutch Republic 1560-1720. Unfortunately, DeGroot's Cambridge University Press book is not available on Audible. On the plus side, Johanthan Keeble's narration of Nature's Mutiny is masterful.

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Starts On Track with Title; Ends Ideological Rant

Europe was warmer than current and thrived. A mini ice age hit and it became colder than current and the disruptions in crops led to famine, wars, religious strife, and eventually forced new ways of thinking to take hold leading to the modern world. The first third of the book is an excellent review of how the colder climate brought these changes about. The middle sections digress into several focus biographies of people involved in these changes. Instead of discussing how the changes occurred the author delves deeply into the conflicts of ideas with no clear connection to those climate changes. The digressions are interesting just not the subject the title led the reader to expect. The reader will occasionally hear an axe grinding somewhere in the background but that’s not too distracting.

It’s the last third of the book that things go off the rails. Current Europe is warmer than the mini ice age but cooler than before that episode began. The author no longer hides those axes and invites the reader into view his collection of finished axes. In particular he is a disciple of St. AlGore, and the warming climate is presented as apocalyptic. It’s not clear why the warmer Europe preceding the mini ice age was good but the prospect of returning to that warmer climate is now a looming disaster. He is a devout Malthusian and anti-market with some odd observations about economics here and there.

The author and book convinced me that the cooling climate had a much larger role than my reading of history before led me to believe. Usually reasons for changes were political, military, religious, leaving weather and climate somewhere at the bottom.

Oddly, the author’s intent was to gain converts to his climate beliefs, but his presentation of history in the first section convinced me that a warmer climate is not to be feared, and his ranting in the last third or so did nothing to persuade me to his cause.

Another book: “Ice Age: The Theory That Came in From the Cold” by John and Mary Gribbin is well worth the time. The authors explain the factors causing the shift into and out of an ice age. A disturbing conclusion at the very end is that the factors pushing toward warmer climate peaked 6,000 years ago. Blom’s book makes a convincing case for global civilization taking coordinated action to keep the climate warm because even a few degrees colder would shake the foundations of our world in ways we don’t want to experience.

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Dull period socioeconomics

Starts out with much interesting historical detail about the specific climate phenomenon but devolves into a dull recounting of period socioeconomics and culture not much related to climate. Narrator Jonathan Keeble is excellent, English-accented and lively.