Friday, May 09, 2008

Blame it on the Rain by Laura Lee

Every day, we encounter the weather, but do you know that weather has actually changed history? more than just something we encounter every day, weather has profound effects on the movements of men, armies and ships under sail, and this book sets out to prove it, with examples that range from Noah's supposed flood, the storm that helped the Greeks sink the Persians at the Battle of Salamis, to several invasions of Russia that failed because of the utter cold that came on the invading troops during the Russian winters, and winds that helped spread the radiation of both the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the many, many nuclear tests that followed.

Reading "Blame It On the Rain", it's possible to see that ignoring the weather, and the weather of a place you are trying to conquer, leads to the worst sort of folly. This is shown over and over in the better that 50 examples from around the world. Over four examples are given of the folly of invading Russia. But even Russia wasn't immune to folly when it tried to invade Finland, and ran into the same sort of problems.

The examples given in this book are sobering, and sometimes, amusing, but always enlightening. For example, did you know the sky in Edward Munch's "The Scream" was based on an actual sky he saw in Europe after the eruption of Krakatau (aka Krakatoa)? That JFK might have lost the election for President if it had been sunny in the US on Election day? That there is a volcano under Yellowstone park that could erupt at any time, and without warning?

This is a wonderful book that covers the subject matter in a way that makes it immediately accessible and fascinating. The chapters are short, but pack in enough information to intrigue, explain and enlighten. A fascinating book and highly recommended.

No comments: