The Great Warming

  • by Brian Fagan
  • Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
  • 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A breakout best seller on how the earth's previous global warming phase reshaped human societies from the Arctic to the Sahara.
From the 10th to the 15th centuries, the earth experienced a rise in surface temperature that changed climate worldwide, a preview of today's global warming. In some areas, including Western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles as they traded precious iron goods. Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on earth. But in many parts of the world, the warm centuries brought drought and famine. Elaborate societies in western and Central America collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatn were left empty.
The history of the Great Warming of a half millennium ago suggests that we may yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives today - and our vulnerability to drought, writes Fagan, is the silent elephant in the room.


What the Critics Say

“Brian Fagan offers a unique contribution to this discussion [of climate change]...Readers should not underestimate this book, writing it off as another addition to a burgeoning genre: the travel guide to a torrid world. Fagan’s project is much bigger. He re-creates past societies in a lively and engaging manner, aided by his expert synthesis of obscure climatological data...In his ability to bring nature into our global, historical narratives, Fagan rivals...scholars who revealed to large audiences the explanatory power of microscopic biota or gross geography. Fagan promises to do the same for longterm climate dynamics...We would be fools to ignore his warnings.” (American Scholar)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good book but unpracticed, disjointed narration.

Ms. Gilbert reads this book with a premium on the enunciation of each word, with cohesiveness suffering badly. She's like a prancing pony; dancing all around the words and hitting the individual words with accuracy, but the sentences themselves (not to mention paragraphs) suffer from herky-jerky, over-enunciated discontinuity. Because of her untargeted verbal thrashings, she occasionally runs out of breath toward the end of the sentence! What now, young pony?

It's like listening to a 10th-grader who's asked to read an unfamiliar passage for a speech audition. I'm going to have to buy the book, because listening to this audiobook is just not working.
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- Paul

I Learned So Much Listening to this Book

This book is a fine, excellently-narrated history of a well-documented story of world-wide climate change, the Medieval Warming Period of 800-1300 AD. During this time, the Western European climate warmed to the point that more diverse crops could be planted and great explorations could be undertaken. During this time, the Vikings were able to settle Greenland, Iceland, and even go as far west as North America. The flip side of this climate change is also documented - great droughts in Western North America, Central America and South America, dooming Native American, Mayan and various South American civilizations. A very interesting, concise overview of the world-wide effects of a warming period, and speculation and warnings about what would be in store this time around should a similar event occur again. Very factual without being boring, alarmist or preachy. Highly recommended.
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- Ruth Ann Orlansky

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-16-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios