Thomas's Reviews > The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations

The Winds of Change by Eugene Linden
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Feb 20, 2008

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Read in February, 2006

A competent but unadventuresome tour of the state of global warming science and media coverage thereof, circa 2006. Linden was a longtime environmental writer at Time, and one of the first "big" journalists to start covering global warming on a regular basis, and the several chapters that deal with the history of climate change in the media are excellent and fascinating. But this really-quite-decent book is most notable, unfortunately, for coming out at just about exactly the same time as, and being totally overshadowed by, Elizabeth Kolbert's juggernaut of global warming book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

(I thought [a minority opinion, to be sure] that Kolbert's book was competent but unadventuresome also--just how unoriginal Kolbert's book was is highlighted by the literally dozens of sections where the two books treat the same material in practically identical ways. But that's another story. Anyway, Linden's book is just as good if not a little better, because he provides richer social/political context for the scientific material they both cover. But timing+marketing means a lot in publishing, and Kolbert won this particular battle of the magazine writers.

Tangentially, Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, which also came out at the same time, is way more interesting, way more original, and way more inflammatory to boot. Amusingly, given that he's a scientist and the other two are writers, Flannery's book is much better written, but also plays more loosely with the line between what is known and not known. I'd recommend Kolbert for a primer on basic climate change science, Linden for that plus more of the social, political and media context, and Flannery if you already know a fair amount of that stuff and are up for a more intellectual, idiosyncratic and enjoyable take on all that, plus some powerful sections on the need for action, and what that action ought to be.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Eileen Thanks for the suggestion of the Flannery book. Put it on hold at the library.

Bruce Sanders Agreed, the comparison to the other books, which I have not read was useful. I have just started George Monbiot's Heat, which a couple of friends (one a physics professor) have said is outstanding.

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