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The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History
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The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  301 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Like Winchester's Krakatoa, The Year Without Summer reveals a year of dramatic global change long forgotten by historyIn the tradition of Krakatoa, The World Without Us, and Guns, Germs and Steel comes a sweeping history of the year that became known as 18-hundred-and-froze-to-death. 1816 was a remarkable year—mostly for thefact that there was no summer. As a result of a v ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 11th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published February 19th 2013)
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Imagine hearing this quote from the book description in the booming voice of the movie trailer guy, “In the tradition of Krakatoa, The World Without Us, and Guns, Germs and Steel comes a sweeping history of the year that became known as 18-hundred-and-froze-to-death.“ Compelling, right? That’s what I thought.

I knew of this 1816 event and wanted to learn more and eagerly sought out this book which is well researched but contains too much repetitive detail.

One of the authors has a Ph.D. in meteor
An enjoyable and frustrating book by turns. I loved the descriptions (usually from news stories and diary entries) of how horrible and crappy the spring/summer/fall of 1816 was. In New England it snowed in June, and July and August saw frosts. Other than the freak snow storms, the eastern U.S. had a drought. Europe, on the other hand, was so drenched with constant rain that Swiss farmers were having to cut hay while in boats. Crops failed, and famine and the inevitable unrest and calls for gover ...more

On April 5, 1815, Mount Tambora on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa (which is well to the east of Java) began erupting. This eruption was the largest known in the last 2000 years (page 12) and the most deadly. The eruption was about 100 times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helen's, and about 10 times greater than the 1990 eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines (page 13).

In addition to the disastrous effects on the local inhabitants, the eruption had world-wide effects due to th

Rebecca Huston
A fascinating study of the links between meteorology and volcanism. In 1815 Mt. Tambora in Indonesia exploded, sending a massive ash cloud into the stratosphere. By 1816 the cloud had reached the northern hemisphere, dropping temperatures by several degrees. For people in that year it was a time of lingering winter, soggy summers, with crop failures and mass migrations resulting from starvation for many. The authors explore how the cooling weather not just affected food, but also politics, relig ...more
Many people have heard about the eruption of Krakatoa in 1888 but when Tambora blew its stack in 1816 it was 10 times more powerful and created a cloud of ash that circled the planet and resulted in abnormally cold conditions across the world.

Mostly this book centers on the history of 1816. There’s not a lot about the actual eruption or the weather that resulted shortly afterwards, but the consequences are dealt with in detail from the mundane to the serious. Be it the gloomy days that caused Ma
1816 is best known as 'The Year Without Summer', the year a volcanic eruption in Indonesia affected weather patterns the world over, resulting in catastrophic droughts, floods, unseasonable snows and frosts. It was the summer that gave birth to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Turner's dramatic paintings of vivid red sunsets. It was also the summer that destroyed harvests and caused untold deaths through famine and privation.

This book is more than just a meteorological history of the world in the
Interesting but the title is a bit deceptive as the book primarily covers the effects of the volcanic eruption on eastern Canada and New England and, to a lesser degree, on the mid-Atlantic states plus Ireland, Britain and Europe. The response of government to the failure of crops and resulting famine is interesting. Proponents of free market economics seemed OK with starvation, death and suffering. Government and private aid was prompted primarily by a fear of revolution. The French Revolution ...more
Krystal Hickam
I enjoyed the amount of detail this book provided on the year 1816 and the woe that surrounded it. It was a lengthy and accurate history of New England and Europe and all the misery the people suffered due to a cooling in the atmosphere caused by a volcanic eruption. From farmers not being able to grow crops to lords and ladies having troubles getting away from there fellow countryman. It had some parts of everything that would be featured in a worldwide weather change. You really get the pictur ...more
It's a shame that this work turned out to be such a bore. The topic, the long-term climatological and sociological effects of the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, is such a good one, not only for historical analysis but for learning how humans cope with sudden climate change. But the book itself gets bogged down in extraneous detail removed from the central narrative. A concise sentence never is used when several pages can substitute for topics as remote as the life and loves of Perc ...more
Absolutely phenomenal! I received this as a GoodReads winner, and when I got the book I though that it would be a history of the Tambora Volcano and it's eruption in 1816. I got that, but also a lot more. This books covers not only the volcano eruption and aftermath, but also the political, economical and in some cases religious issues caused by the eruption. It followed European and American politics and economics as well as giving information on several famous people who lived during this time ...more
David Bales
Excellent history on how the massive eruption on the island of Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 drastically effected the planet's weather. The volcanic eruption was the largest in the last 100,000 years and led to snow in June and frost in July in North America, failed crops and food riots in Europe and worldwide temperature fluctuations that baffled observers. These events are set against contemporary events like Napoleon's exile, the presidency of James Madison, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly's novel ...more
I am fascinated by volcanoes and have read many a book on Krakatoa. I had not encountered a book on the eruption of Tambora and its effects on the climate in 1816 and beyond.

It is awe inspiring to realize just how much ash, steam, smoke, gas and other matter a volcano can expel when it erupts. Tambora sent up 55 million tons of sulphur dioxide gas when it blew over 4/11-12/1815. Can you imagine the stink? This was the largest known volcanic eruption of the last 2,000 years exceeding both Krakat
This book was not what I was expecting when I picked it up. I expected to hear many details about the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 and more about volcanology. I almost stopped reading it after the first chapter, but I am very glad I kept going. Nothing happens in a vacuum (unless you're a physicist). Klingaman did a great job of creating context for this geologic event. It would be a wonderful addition to a college course in volcanolgy because it provides a great overview of all of t ...more
Morgan Eckstein
As many people know, I actually have two Bachelor degrees--one in history, the other one in literary studies (aka literature). And both of my degrees are generalist degrees; the University of Colorado at Denver is not set up to specialize one's degree (not that I didn't end up with some areas that were more well-known than others). Therefore, I feel that I am the perfect person to review the book, The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History (William ...more
Kelly Barrett
I was expecting more about the scientific explanations of how and why the eruption of Mount Tambora effected the climate when I found this book at the library. Instead, this book focused on the many human stories of how the volcano vast continents of people. I was not so sure about continuing to read this, but I am glad that I did. The mix of more well known events like the publishing of Jane Austin's Emma, the US presidential election, and the return of Napoleon with the stories of common folks ...more
Stephanie Lehman
I am a big fan of history, and enjoy reading the genre. As a child, my family had vacationed near Mt. St. Helens in an area obliterated a month later when the mountain exploded. This sparked a life-long interest in reading about geology and volcanic activity. Having read about Pompeii, Krakatoa, the Hawaii Islands, etc., when I saw this account of another volcano's tremendous world impact I was intrigued.

Year Without Summer lost me about mid-way through - it just wasn't interesting or informativ
Sep 24, 2013 Mary rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Mary by: Saw a review
Shelves: history
I gave up on this book and don't plan to finish it. Years ago I read an account of the eruption of Krakatoa -- it was marvelous book. It started out describing the falling ash and other signs that something was about to happen and built up to the eruption itself in 1883 and the events that followed, very suspenseful and engrossing even though you knew how it turned out. I loved it.

This book starts out with a lot of meteorologic stuff that isn't very interesting and a little hard to follow if you
Donald Luther
'The Year Without Summer' is promoted as being in the vein of 'Krakatoa', which I regard as an outstanding book. If only this book were as good.

While the subject matter is interesting, the authors don't do much with it, and they don't give as broad an examination as might have been useful. Whereas 'Krakatoa' examined the explosion of the volcano itself, that only occurred after a detailed treatment of the society that had grown up in Indonesia, the origins and development and gradual acceptance
I had read reviews of this book (not on Goodreads) and had expected more. Specifically, I had expected the author to make the comparisons between the effect of the volcanic eruption of Tamburo on the weather and climate patterns of the time with the current and future effects of the particulates we currently spew into the atmosphere. Were these volcanic eruptions a foreshadowing of what we might see as the suns rays become blocked by our increasingly polluted atmosphere? Instead, this book is ch ...more
Becky B
Klingaman & Klingaman take you through one of the most bizarre years - at least weather-wise - of note in modern Western history. Little did Europeans and Americans know that when a volcano erupted in Indonesia it would effect them so far away. Actually, the authors would clarify that those living probably never knew the cause but not for lack of theories, because those were many and some extremely creative. It wasn't until the past 50 years or so scientists started to figure out the correla ...more
I won this book in a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.

The explosion of Mount Tambora in 1815 caused cooling temperatures around the planet and lead to a devastating agricultural and social consequences throughout the United States and Europe for the next couple years (the book does point out there were some effects in Asia as well, though the historical record is not as detailed).

I liked the book. It had a lot of different information and followed multiple characters and communities. I enjoyed the
Read Ng
This was a GoodReads giveaway.

Lots of historical information concerning world events in the year 1816. I liked the glimpse into the known science, politics, and personalities of the day. Oh, the joy of history is of how we approach our current world problems, with some insight of past events. The science of the day in reflection seems so backward. Will we feel the same way about how we currently invision Climate Change now and then fifty years from today? Worldwide food shortages cause men to t
Justin Rose
It is well researched, but I got tired of reading quotes. It felt like they had a minimum number of pages they had to reach, so instead of generalizing they added quotes to take up space. That is what I did on papers in college more than once. There is, of course, one event in the book, but a consistent theme and structure are missing.
What do Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, James Madison, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XVIII, George III, Sir Robert Peel, and Joseph Smith of Mormon fame all have in common? They were all indirectly affected by Javanese volcanic activity by being alive in 1816, that's what!

Oh my... such a reach. I was disappointed - I had hoped for more.
This book describes the 1815 volcanic eruption of Mt. Tambora and the effects of it on weather in the eastern US & Canada, and western and central Europe in the following year. It carefully uses primary sources, mostly from England, France, and the US to document its information. It is somewhat uneven in that it describes conditions in some areas in great detail but barely mentions others. This can in part be ascribed to large holes in the availability of data. Maps and more substantial mete ...more
Started off very strong with the account of the indonesian volcano whose eruption affected the world and world events in the 1800s. After compelling accounts taken from eye-witnesses at the time it ultimately bogged down considerably (for me) in a series of exceprts taken from accounts thoughout the ensuing time of the various ways the long-term effects manifested (unusual cold and frosts in summer, harvests and herds destroyed by flood, frost etc) and increasing stress on families and countries ...more
David R.
A satisfactory treatment of the aftermath of the Tambora volcano (1815) that led to the so-called "Year Without a Summer". Klingaman gives valuable insights on the experience of those caught in the worst of the crop failures (American northeast, parts of Europe) especially because a volcano of this type is certain to blow up again. But there are weaknesses. For one, Klingaman spents very little time on the actual eruption. Second, he spins long story lines involving royal houses in England and F ...more
B.L. Freeborn
This diligently researched and very readable book is packed with information and cameos of historical figures that gives one a new perspective on the history of England, Ireland, Europe, and the U.S. It makes one realize how fragile our world is when an event on one side of the world can reshape governments and kill thousands far removed. This should be required reading in all high schools and for all politicians. The power that reshaped the world in 1816 is ever present. We may face such a situ ...more
Colin Slider
excellent read about something that most people will only have heard about peripherally. makes you wonder how we'd cope if something similar were to happen again - and its more a question of when it will happen, rather than if….
Nancy Baker
Fascinating book about the impact of a volcanic explosion in Indonesia on Europe and North American weather. Suffered from a bit too many quotes regarding the weather from contemporary sources but otherwise very interesting.
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“In fact, scientists have taken advantage of this effect by using the amount of red in contemporary paintings of sunsets to estimate the intensity of volcanic eruptions. Several Greek scientists, led by C. S. Zerefos, digitally measured the amount of red—relative to other primary colors—in more than 550 samples of landscape art by 181 artists from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries to produce estimates of the amount of volcanic ash in the air at various times. Paintings from the years following the Tambora eruption used the most red paint; those after Krakatoa came a close second.” 0 likes
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