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The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  346 ratings  ·  42 reviews
For more than a century we've known that much of human evolution occurred in an Ice Age. Starting about 15,000 years ago, temperatures began to rise, the glaciers receded, and sea levels rose. The rise of human civilization and all of recorded history occurred in this warm period, known as the Holocene.Until very recently we had no detailed record of climate changes during ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 24th 2003 by Basic Books (first published June 1st 2003)
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If you are interesting in systems the argument presented here is intriguing. Societies reacted to the environmental stresses caused by changing climates through increasing complexity. Increasing social or technological complexity carried the seeds of its own destruction through increased risk and greater vulnerability. It is a picture that is a far cry from the relaxed agriculture of Stone Age Economics were families are happy to operate well below the presumed carrying capacity of the land - th ...more
A sweeping history of the post-Ice Age migrations of humans over the last 18,000 years. This is a great book, and it answers so many questions about why people ended up in the pockets of the world in which they did, as well as why and how agriculture developed where it did. The one problem I have with it is that Fagan has this apprehension about what he calls "environmental determinism", i.e. the idea that it could be said that the environment is the reason that certain things happened, say the ...more
Yasmeen  Mahmoud Fayez
إحم .. هو كتاب معلوماته فخيمة كدة وبيقول كلام زى الفل :D

اللى مش دارس جغرافيا وجيولوجيا هايلاقى درجة من الملل تتزايد مع تقدم قراءته .. إنما اللى دارس هايلاقى الكتاب بالنسبة له إضافة ممتعة وقوية جداً

الفصل الثامن بعنوان "هبات من الصحراء" بيتكلم عن أصول الحضارة الفرعونية والأصل وراء استخدام الفراعنة لرموز "الثور" و"البقرة" فى رسوماتهم .. ده أكتر فصل عجبنى :)
Aaron Arnold
Mark Twain supposedly once said "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it", I guess as a commentary on how helpless human beings are over the vast power of nature. Well, these days humanity is certainly doing something about the weather in the form of dumping tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year, but it's under-appreciated how vulnerable we still are to unusual weather events, how dependent on complex climate patterns modern civilization is, and also ...more
Where he possibly can he sticks to examples of climate change affecting man in the Americas and Europe - where his target audience lives. The middle-east is there because he cant get away without it. But I would like to have read something of China, south-east Asia, India, Australia and sub-Saharan Africa. That's a lot of the world, and a lot of civilization that he has not even mentioned.
I haven't read any of his other books but I feel I will recognise pieces if I do, as I felt that this book w
I read The Little Ice Age by Brian Fagan a long time ago, so I was delighted to run across this book on how climate changed civilization over the entire history of human habitation on earth.
Whether you agree with Fagan's theories or not, the ideas in this book are some of the most thought provoking I've ever read concerning the rise and fall of civilization. The bulk of the book is devoted to Europe and Asia, but Fagan touches on North and South America.
The theory about what happened to the Ana
The theme of this book is the dance between human population growth and changes in the environment in which those peoples lived (and live now).
i learned from this book.

it was interesting and informative and clearly written but more and more i find myself lost in a morass of extraneous words and narrative when reading non-fiction. this is just my own radical sensibility and reflects nothing upon this author. he did a fine job in a scholarly and academic sense. this subject matter is even accessible to most lay people.

however, i have come to think that informative books such as this need more visual elements, more concise construction of

I really enjoyed The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850 (I gave it 4 stars). I was not thrilled with The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (I gave it 2 stars) and I have to say that I do not care much for The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization either.

In fact, to be short and sweet let me suffice it to say that if you follow this link:
and see my review about The Great Warm
Fagan is a science writer who proposes that civilization was 'changed' by climate. He attempts to link climactic variations to: the ebb and flow of human settlement of North, the rise of civilizations dependant on farming, the extinction of North American megafauna, etc. His engine of change, civilization, evolution (both physical and cultural) is climate. He firmly rejects the Pleistocene over-kill hypothesis and links the "Younger Dryas" to the reversal or cessation of the Atlantic conveyer be ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history/pop science/climate junkies.
Interesting and thought-provoking. The basic thesis is that climate has hugely affected, and driven, changes in human development and civilization, from the development of agriculture and herding to the rise and fall of Rome. A subthesis is that human societies have steadily taken steps to reduce short-term risks that make them more vulnerable in the long run (to bigger risks).

The book is a fascinating tour of climate shifts of the past twelve millenia, plus suppositions (backed up by research)

Trish McLellan
Reading this book, I got a better understanding of how changes in climate over the last 11 000 years has influenced the way people live. Changes in average temperature and rainfall affect how easy it is to grow food. Without food, people die, sometimes in large numbers.The world today is experiencing the stress of a very large population (7 billion and growing) and there are many who do not get enough to eat every day. In the past, people moved when climatic conditions got worse. Where can many ...more
If I could, I'd give it 2.5 stars. It was interesting and informative, but he gets some of the chronology wrong (Chapter 6). Granted, much of the re-calibration of Epipalaeolithic dates is recent, but still... Also, his Pan-Celtic descriptions are a bit off, based on recent linguistic, genetic, and archaeological tracing of the Celtic source (i.e. they did not come from Central Europe, spreading westward).

Also, it is annoying reading BC dates for prehistoric periods. It's one thing when you're d
Basically talks about how climate influenced the migration and cultural evolution of man. An example would be the climate shift from moist/sufficient rainfall to dry/arid found in Northern Africa. Some tribes clung to the banks of the Nile. Most tribes migrated North to colder regions adopting heavier clothing, more frequent hunting leading to domestication of cattle and sheep and the cultivation of wheat and other grains. Some migrated farther south, looking for moister areas but adjusting thei ...more
I really enjoyed the book, the narration is easy to follow, even when the reading is difficult - I have no climate study background so the heavy science of weather was hard for me to follow. The history of this book is harder to follow because it deals more with pre-history up to the Romans.
Massanutten Regional Library
Chris, Main patron, June 2015, 5 stars:

An accessible overview of how our "mild climate" since the last ice age strongly contributed to the development of human civilization.
FRED Traweek
Apr 13, 2007 FRED Traweek rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Climate Effects on History
Shelves: haveread
To quote the back of the book,"Humanity evolved in an Ice Age in which glaciers covered much of the world.But starting about 15,000 years ago,temperatures began to climb.Civilization and all of recorded history occurred in this warm period--the long
summer of the human species.In The Long Summer,Brian Fagan illuminates the centuries-long pattern of human adaptation to the challenges of an ever-changing climate--and how climate gave rise to civilization. "
This book moves fast and goes against a lo
A fascinating story of how human civilization in the Holocene epoch has responded to the stress of dramatic climate change. Also troubling. One doesn't have to believe in human generated climate change to be disturbed by this book. Climate changes anyway, on its own time cycle, to its own extreme. We are not immune to the consequences; indeed, we are as vulnerable to the catastrophic consequences of a dramatic fluctuation in temperature and precipitation as civilizations, such as the Hittites an ...more
Ahmed Xahabi
The had few entertaining and good information regarding the weather and such topics obviously

But I can't help to notice how he neglected the fact that apocalypse is at doors *climate wise speaking ofcourse*
David R.
I've got problems with a scientific writer who makes mistakes even I can spot. Among Fagan's howlers are one-gram stone tipped arrows among prehistoric humans and a Rhine that flows through Poland. I find it hard to trust his facts. Beyond that, Fagan sees the warming period after the last Ice Age as a bad thing---chapter after chapter are devoted to floods, droughts, and collapses of cultures. Really??
Gary Maunder
This book traces how climate change has been both a spur to development and a destroyer of civilizations. Beginning with man's pre-history in the stone age he traces how civilizations have tended to increase in size which can only be maintained by the food resources of the existing climate. If climate change occurs which is prolonged on a global scale, there are very few societies which can maintain themselves.
Historically Earth has been much cooler than it has been for the last 15,000 years, according to Fagan we're overdue for a cooling cycle and nearing the end of this "Long Summer". Interesting to consider how for the first time in this cycle man has the ability to alter the climate - how does global warming affect this, if at all. No answers here in this book, but a worthwhile read certainly.
Andy Turner
Learning about the major lake floods was interesting for me. Where are we heading? Catastrophe is a distinct possibility. Will we drive it as much as change in the physical environment we cannot control? Is it wise to keep our fingers crossed and hope to become a multi planet space race before it all goes pear shaped on Earth?
Michael Cahill
This is another book that is about as good as it gets if you are interested in the society leading up to the Black Sea Flood of 6400 BC, which was my interest. But it is full of a wealth of information and very readable. This is one of those books that you are better off for having read.
Someone borrowed this book from me about 7 years ago and I still get a twinge when I remember it's no longer in my collection. This guy writes archaeology for people who don't speak archaeology. He makes it accessible and interesting and SEXY! I must try and find some more of his work.
Linda Gould
Enjoyed it very much. The book does not claim definitive answers (unlike the title) but a really interesting way to go back through history which I know (at least somewhat), tying it to what was happening with the climate at each time. Amazing how that can be reconstructed.
Micah Kunze
My favorite of his books so far. If the little Ice Ace was a country road, this is the highway stretching 20,000 years of humanity's relationship with climate change. The further out you get the bigger things look.
Andy Gibb
Not too well written hence the lack of 5 stars; otherwise, essential in understanding how this civilisation is simply repeating the mistakes of all those that have collapsed before. We're well on our way...
Jagati Bagchi
hmm . . . the thing is while i am waiting for the monsoon rains . . . a scary read. . . monsoon track change . . . death of civilisations. . . . what are we waiting for???
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Brian Murray Fagan (born 1 August 1936) is a prolific author of popular archaeology books and a professor emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA. Fagan was born in England where he received his childhood education at Rugby School. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology (BA 1959, MA 1962, PhD 1965). ...more
More about Brian M. Fagan...
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations The Rape of the Nile: Tomb Robbers, Tourists, and Archaeologists in Egypt Archaeology: A Brief Introduction

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