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About Brian M. Fagan
Since coming to Santa Barbara, Brian has specialized in communicating archaeology to general audiences through lecturing, writing, and other media. He is regarded as one of the world's leading archaeological and historical writers and is widely respected popular lecturer about the past. His many books include three volumes for the National Geographic Society, including the bestselling Adventure of Archaeology. Other works include The Rape of the Nile, a classic history of archaeologists and tourists along the Nile, and four books on ancient climate change and human societies, Floods, Famines, and Emperors (on El Niños), The Little Ice Age, and The Long Summer, an account of warming and humanity since the Great Ice Age. His most recent climatic work describes the Medieval Warm Period: The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. His other books include Chaco Canyon: Archaeologists Explore the Lives of an Ancient Society and Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World and Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age gave birth to the First Modern Humans. His recently published Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind extends his climatic research to the most vital of all resources for humanity.
Brian has been sailing since he was eight years old and learnt his cruising in the English Channel and North Sea. He has sailed thousands of miles in European waters, across the Atlantic, and in the Pacific. He is author of the Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California, which has been a widely used set of sailing directions since 1979. An ardent bicyclist, he lives in Santa Barbara with his life Lesley and daughter Ana.
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From the 10th to 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 much of Western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful crops and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In others, drought shook long-established societies, such as the Maya and the Indians of the American Southwest, whose monumental buildings were left deserted as elaborate social structures collapsed. Brian Fagan examines how subtle changes in the environment had far-reaching effects on human life, in a narrative that sweeps from the Arctic ice cap to the Sahara to the Indian Ocean. The lessons of history suggest we may be yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives today.
New York Times best-selling author Brian Fagan explores the world of the Cro-Magnons--the mysterious, little-known race, famous for its cave paintings, that survived the Ice Age and became the ancestors of today's humans.
They survived by their wits in a snowbound world, hunting, and sometimes being hunted by, animals many times their size. By flickering firelight, they drew bison, deer, and mammoths on cavern walls- vibrant images that seize our imaginations after thirty thousand years. They are known to archaeologists as the Cro-Magnons-but who were they? Simply put, these people were among the first anatomically modern humans. For millennia, their hunter-gatherer culture flourished in small pockets across Ice Age Europe, the distant forerunner to the civilization we live in now.
Bestselling author Brian Fagan brings these early humans out of the deep freeze with his trademark mix of erudition, cutting-edge science, and vivid storytelling. Cro-Magnon reveals human society in its infancy, facing enormous environmental challenges from glaciers, predators, and a rival species of humans-the Neanderthals. Cro-Magnon captures the adaptability that has made humans an unmatched success as a species. Living on a frozen continent with only crude tools, Ice Age humans survived and thrived. In these pages, we meet our most remarkable ancestors.
Comprehensive and authoritative, this guide combines and updates two smaller, long-trusted regional books to provide seamless coverage of the entire California coast from just outside the Golden Gate Bridge to Mexico, with special attention given to the popular offshore islands between Point Conception and San Diego. Brian Fagan draws upon more than three decades of experience sailing those waters under all conditions to offer the definitive cruising guide for both sailors and powerboaters.
Beautifully illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs, Chaco Canyon draws on the very latest research on Chaco and its environs to tell the remarkable story of the people of the canyon, from foraging bands and humble farmers to the elaborate society that flourished between the tenth and twelfth centuries A.D. Brian Fagan is a master story teller, and he weaves the latest discoveries into a compelling narrative of people living in a harsh, unpredictable environment. Indeed, this is not a story about artifacts and dusty digs, but a riveting narrative of people in the distant past, going about their daily business, living and dying, loving, raising children, living in plenty and in hunger, pondering the cosmos, and facing the unpredictable challenges of the environment. Drawing on rare access to the records of the Chaco Synthesis Project, Fagan reveals a society where agriculture and religion went hand-in-hand, where the ritual power of Chaco's leaders drew pilgrims from distant communities bearing gifts. He describes the lavish burials in the heart of Pueblo Bonito, which offer clues about the identity of Chaco's shadowy leaders. And he explores the enduring mystery of Chaco's sudden decline in the face of savage drought and shows how its legacy survives into modern times.
Here then is the first authoritative account of the Chaco people written for a general audience, lending a fascinating human face to one of America's most famous archaeological sites.
An archaeologist examines humanity’s last major source of food from the wild, and how it enabled and shaped the growth of civilization.
In this history of fishing—not as sport but as sustenance—archaeologist and best-selling author Brian Fagan argues that fishing was an indispensable and often overlooked element in the growth of civilization. It sustainably provided enough food to allow cities, nations, and empires to grow, but it did so with a different emphasis. Where agriculture encouraged stability, fishing demanded movement. It frequently required a search for new and better fishing grounds; its technologies, centered on boats, facilitated movement and discovery; and fish themselves, when dried and salted, were the ideal food—lightweight, nutritious, and long-lasting—for traders, travelers, and conquering armies. This history of the long interaction of humans and seafood tours archaeological sites worldwide to show readers how fishing fed human settlement, rising social complexity, the development of cities, and ultimately the modern world.
“A tour-de-force . . . Achieves its goal of putting fishing on par with hunter-gathering and agriculture in the history of human civilization.” —Leon Vlieger, Natural History Book Service
“A valuable book as well as an interesting one . . . Fagan succeeds in providing an admirable primer for the enthusiast and a welcome tool for the historian.” —Economist
“A unique panoramic survey of the field.” —Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History“Gently scholarly, elegant . . . A compelling picture of how fishing was so integral in each society’s development. A multilayered, nuanced tour of “fishing societies throughout the world” and across millennia.” —Kirkus Reviews
What drove humans to risk their lives on open water? How did early sailors unlock the secrets of winds, tides, and the stars they steered by? What were the earliest ocean crossings like? With compelling detail, Brian Fagan reveals how seafaring evolved so that the vast realms of the sea gods were transformed from barriers into highways that hummed with commerce. Indeed, for most of human history, oceans have been the most vital connectors of far-flung societies.
From bamboo rafts in the Java Sea to the caravels of the Age of Discovery, from Easter Island to Crete, Brian Fagan crafts a captivating narrative of humanity's urge to seek out distant shores, of the daring men and women who did so, and of the mark they have left on civilization.
Elixir spans five millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to the parched present of the Sun Belt. As Brian Fagan shows, every human society has been shaped by its relationship toour most essential resource. Fagan's sweeping narrative moves across the world, from ancient Greece and Rome, whose mighty aqueducts still supply modern cities, to China, where emperors marshaled armies of laborers in a centuries-long struggle to tame powerful rivers. He sets out three ages of water: In the first age, lasting thousands of years, water was scarce or at best unpredictable-so precious that it became sacred in almost every culture.
By the time of the Industrial Revolution, human ingenuity had made water flow even in the most arid landscapes.This was the second age: water was no longer a mystical force to be worshipped and husbanded, but a commodity to be exploited. The American desert glittered with swimming pools- with little regard for sustainability. Today, we are entering a third age of water: As the earth's population approaches nine billion and ancient aquifers run dry,we will have to learn once again to show humility, even reverence, for this vital liquid. To solve the water crises of the future, we may need to adapt the water ethos of our ancestors.