The eruption of Laki is one of history's great untold natural disasters. The eruption, spewing out a poisionous fog, lasted for eight months, but its effects lingered across Europe for years, causing the death of people as far away as the Nile, and creating famine that may have triggered the French revolution. Island on Fire is the story not only of a volcano but also of the people whose lives it changed, such as the pastor Jon Steingrimsson, who witnessed and recorded the events in Iceland. It is the story, too, of modern volcanology, and looks at how events might work out should Laki erupt again in our time.
Alexandra Witze is a contributing editor to Science News and past US bureau chief for Nature.
Jeff Kanipe is the author of Chasing Hubble's Shadow and Cosmic Connection.
"A volcanic tour de force: terrific story-telling that reveals our vulnerability to nature's most destructive forces."
– Nick Crane
"Island on Fire is a terrific, disturbing book centred on the eruption of Laki in Iceland in June 1783 and its disastrous repercussions across Europe and beyond. In their fast-paced, enjoyable text the authors use that story and recent science to show how vulnerable we remain to the most unpredictable of natural disasters – volcanic action."
– Gillian Darley, author of Vesuvius