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Originally published in 1984. Heaven's Breath, the first history of the wind, looks at this ubiquitous and invisible entity from the point of view of geography, biology, physics, sociology, physiology, psychology, history, and philosophy. Lyall Watson shows how wind shapes the world and maintains its life, functioning as the circulatory and nervous systems of the planet, sharing our energy and information, distributing warmth, bringing rain, enriching or stripping away soil, air-conditioning the globe. Wind also disperses plants, animals, and human communities, shaping history: Trade winds have influenced human migrations and shaped imperial destinies; wind affected the outcome of wars between the Greeks and Persians, the Mongols and Japanese; wind contributed to the destruction of the Spanish Armada. And wind works on our most intimate feelings: The foehn, mistral, sirocco, Santa Ana, and other "ill winds" of the world can lead to disease, suicide, and even murder.
Watson had written a book that is full of strange lore and new perspectives on history, nature, and humanity.
Lyall Watson (1939-2008) was the author of such well-known books as Supernature, The Romeo Error, Gifts of Unknown Things, Lifetide, Lightning Bird, and Whales of the World. He was also a producer for BBC television, a zoo director, an expedition leader, and the Seychelles Commissioner on the International Whaling Commission.
Nick Hunt has walked and written across much of Europe. His articles have appeared in the Economist, the Guardian and other publications, and he works as a storyteller and co-editor for the Dark Mountain Project. He is the author of Walking the Woods and the Water and Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europe's Winds from the Pennines to Provence. He lives in Bristol, England.
"A comprehensive and fascinating study."
– Bernard Levin, The Observer, Bernard Levin's 1984 Book of the Year
"A book which fascinates, delights and stimulates with a thousand fascinating facts."
– Daily Mirror
"This is the kind of book that answers dozens of questions first arising in childhood and lingering unresolved until there was Lyall Watson [...] Watson's pot-pourri of wind poetry, wind jokes and wind facts is so diverting that one hardly minds losing the thread now and then."
– Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post
"Collectors of curious bits of information and odd statistics will find Heaven's Breath a gold mine [...] Mr. Watson discusses the wind's role in geology, plant and animal evolution, cultural history, trade, health, mythology, art, literature and language."
– Patricia T. O'Conner, The New York Times