The Coming Storm

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (2,156 ratings)
  • By: Michael Lewis
  • Narrated by: Michael Lewis
  • Length: 2 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 07-31-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
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About the Audible Original

Tornadoes, cyclones, tsunamis… Weather can be deadly – especially when it strikes without warning. Millions of Americans could soon find themselves at the mercy of violent weather if the public data behind lifesaving storm alerts gets privatized for personal gain. In his first audio original feature, New York Times best-selling author and journalist Michael Lewis delivers hard-hitting research on not-so-random weather data – and how Washington plans to release it. He also digs deep into the lives of two scientists who revolutionized climate predictions, bringing warning systems to previously unimaginable levels of accuracy. One is Kathy Sullivan, a gifted scientist among the first women in space; the other, D.J. Patil, is a trickster-turned-mathematician and a political adviser. Most urgently, Lewis’s narrative reveals the potential cost of putting a price tag on information with the potential to save lives, raising questions about balancing public service with profits in an ethically-ambiguous atmosphere.
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Although he’s covered political campaigns, writing about the inner workings of government was a first for Mr. Lewis… he approached it the same way he’s infiltrated other seemingly impenetrable institutions.

- The New York Times

Our favorite moments from The Coming Storm

Data suppression in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Trying to force the U.S taxpayer to pay all over again...
Kathy Sullivan's life in NASA
Challenges of human physiology in space

  • The Coming Storm
  • Data suppression in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • The Coming Storm
  • Trying to force the U.S taxpayer to pay all over again...
  • The Coming Storm
  • Kathy Sullivan's life in NASA
  • The Coming Storm
  • Challenges of human physiology in space

The History of Data and Why It Matters

It’s about the value of the data the government collects and the case study here is the weather data. The idea that we may be headed into a world where you get the forecast you pay for is kind of a shocking idea.
– Michael Lewis
  • Past

    A killer storm hit Galveston, Texas in 1900 - and the surging waters took 8,000 lives. In its wake came a flood of research. Since 1948, meteorologists have predicted catastrophic weather, likely saving millions of lives.

  • Present

    By the end of 2017, both the EPA and the Department of Interior removed links to climate change data from their websites. The USDA removed the database of cases of animal abuse brought by the government. The first crime statistics released by the FBI were missing nearly three-quarters of the data released in previous years.

  • Future

    Michael Lewis imagines a future of only receiving the predictions you pay for. Private entities will be making the call on what to do with crucial data: a hurricane is coming in for landing...what will they do with that information? Tell the public, or sell it to the highest bidder?

About the Author and Performer

A best-selling and critically acclaimed author, Michael Lewis is also the narrator of his Audible Originals for Audible Studios. Lewis is renowned for disrupting industries and exposing systemic injustices by probing the lives of individual people in his previous works. Want the lowdown on the financial system? Understand the industry through the moves of one shark finessing it in Lewis’s nonfiction classic The Big Short. Yearn to learn how baseball really works? Feast your ears on Moneyball, and listen to the men who uncovered the hidden numbers game within the game. Tough issues of race and class become relatable in The Blind Side as Lewis tells the true story of a black high school student living with an evangelical family. In The Coming Storm, one of four audio originals exclusive to Audible, Lewis focuses his unique brand of nuanced reportage on the implications of state-of-the-art weather data.

Recommended by the Audible Experts

If you enjoy the way The Coming Storm makes complex systems seem transparent, here are recommended next listens on similar topics. We asked the Audible scientists (yes, there is such a thing!) to examine the “DNA” of The Coming Storm, including topics covered, writing style of the author, ratings and reviews from our listeners, and analysis of many other elements. They combed our catalogue of favorites to identify titles of similar style and quality.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 08-06-18

More like a Podcast

This felt less like a narrated story and more like a podcast, but I still very much enjoyed it. Those that listen to NPR and podcasts would enjoy this.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kingsley on 08-01-18

Talking about the weather was never so interesting

'The Coming Storm' tells a brief history of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the prediction of weather - how it has improved over time, and how we can get people to actually pay attention to the extreme weather warnings.

It is rather political in it's content - discussing changes in NOAA (and Dept of Commerce) since the Trump Administration has begun. It also discussed laws and attempted laws that were trying to dismantle or cripple NOAA, in favour of private companies like AccuWeather (of which one of the founders is appointed to Dept of Commerce by Trump), despite the fact that AccuWeather gets it's data from NOAA and then just processes it differently.

It goes into details on how people react to storm warnings - often ignoring them due to a 'it wont happen to me' attitude, or thinking 'home' means safe. And it looks at how NOAA is changing how it present information based on social science.

Michael Lewis narrates his own work, and it is fine narration. Nothing outstanding, but clear and well produced. I would be more than happy to listen to him narrate more of his own books.

Overall a very interesting piece of work that is likely to get a lot of strong opinions from the two sides of politics - something that can already be seen in the handful of reviews on Audible already.

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39 of 49 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Simon on 08-01-18

Tornadoes, Big Data and Trump bashing!

Martin Lewis is a voice I've thought worth listening to ever since the highly revealing Flash Boys passed between my ears. This one is short but packs in a very decent amount of information and of course opinion. Lewis covers the devastating impact that tornadoes in particular can have and touches on the psychology of why people ignore warnings and weather forecasts despite their dramatic improvements in usefulness over recent years.

Set against the awesome power of nature of course are the weathermen and he concentrates on two scientists in particular. The role that big data plays in the science of weather prediction becomes very clear but so does the damage that can be done by its misuse. Over-hyped forecasts that erode public trust in meteorologists, the commercial use of data whereby only paying customers get storm warnings and of course the Trump administration all come in for a Lewis-fuelled bashing.

I think it's well worth listening to. There is a level of political bias here (though most felt well deserved!) but the issues are important. How the data is used, the importance of public ownership of it and how government policy could send us backwards are all well worth exploring.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By dsarin on 08-14-18

Excellent book

This is a must-read book. The fact that it is Audible only is a crime.
Forecasting, corruption, tornadoes, astronauts.Yes, it is that cool.

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