240 pages, 16 colour illustrations
Blending history, science and eye-witness accounts, and arranged in chapters corresponding to the four elements (earth, air, fire and water), Terra: Tales of the Earth explores the relationship between the planet and the humans who inhabit its surfaces. Through four case histories – the Lisbon earthquake of 1755; the weather-panics of the summer of 1783; the eruption of Krakatau in 1883; and, the Hilo tsunami of 1946 – Hamblyn reminds us of the earth's unimaginable force and describes what happens when that force is unleashed, both in terms of the immediate human consequences and the longer term economic and scientific implications. Serving, ultimately, as a stark and incontrovertible reminder of our vulnerability when the earth 'goes wrong', Terra: Tales of the Earth also asks why we don't seem fully able to learn from the catastrophes, mistakes and responses of the past.
'Beautifully written, richly detailed and brilliantly judged'
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Richard Hamblyn was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the universities of Essex and of Cambridge, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the early history of geology in Britain. His first book, The Invention of Clouds, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives and works in London.