A Natural and Cultural History

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.
It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.

Cynthia Barnett's  Rain  begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science--the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains--with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River.   It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey's mopes and Kurt Cobain's grunge.  Rain  is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.

-- Gold Medal Winner, Florida Book Award
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780804137096
Branch Call Number: 551.577 Bar
Characteristics: 355 pages


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LPL_ShirleyB Aug 09, 2018

I'm celebrating an appreciation for rain!

Apr 02, 2018

A fascinating account of the many manifestations and cultural meanings of water from the sky. There are discussions of the water cycle (of course), global warming (and how to combat it), rain deities (including the unknowing one in “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”), the history of weather forecasting, rain in literature and music (though Barnett leaves out art and classical music – I would have at least mentioned Takemitsu’s “Garden Rain” and the thunderstorms in Beethoven’s “Pastoral” and R. Strauss’ “Alpine” symphonies), and a long chapter on the making of a particular perfume in India that supposedly captures the aroma of rain. Included in the latter discussion are definitions and discussions of “petrachor” and “geosmin”, two types of rain-smell. This is a book full of trivia and information, and it’s worth having around simply to refer to from time to time.

Apr 21, 2017

One of the most absolutely beautiful books that I have ever read. It was intellectually a lot for me to take in but so lyrical, vivid, and fluid. I LOVED everything about it and the hunts it took me on. Truly appreciative of such a comprehensive and beautiful gem!! So glad to have happened upon this!!

Oct 17, 2015

Ultimate weather "junkie's" chronicle. Also, delves into historical movements that were probably influenced by weather.

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