Book describes the 1815 eruption that changed the world
Gillen D’arcy Wood
Princeton Univ., $29.95
For many residents of the Northern Hemisphere, 1816 was known as the “year without a summer.” In Europe, summer heat waves were replaced by freezing temperatures while New England saw snowstorms in June. The ruined crops, hunger and social turmoil that followed the next year led many others to remember 1817 as the “year of the beggar.”
Those several years of bizarre weather seemed to signal the end of the world. But in an age before the Internet, telephone or even the telegraph, few people realized that the year before the chaos started, a mighty Indonesian volcano had blown its top. In his new book, Wood, an English professor, argues that many of the dramatic events between then and the end of the decade were linked to the 1815 eruption of Tambora.