Top positive review
Highly Readable, Highly Informative & Highly Recommended
Reviewed in the United States on June 26, 2015
This delightful book is highly readable, highly informative and highly recommended. Anyone with an interest in the foundations of scientific weather analysis, 19th century history of discovery and invention, or just wonders how we got to understand the weather would be well served by spending time with this finely written account. I found myself 100 pages in before I knew it. Having had to put this book down in order to sleep and then work I found myself looking forward to being able to pick it up again and continue with being both entertained and enlightened by it. Our journey from accommodating, enduring and fearing the weather to understanding its causes and forecasting it is a story worth investigating.
The research is broad and extensive but is written up in a way that both the specialist and general reader can enjoy. The large cast of characters is deftly handled with pen portraits that bring them alive and descriptions of places and events that draw the reader into a tale that literally spans the globe. Moore has a very helpful way with words that quickly allows a reader in the 21st century, where mobile connectivity and access to information is the norm for so many, to understand the magnitude of what was being achieved in what could be considered a far distant past that is difficult to relate to. To give an example, on page 88 he writes "Beaufort's Hydrographic Department would become the nineteenth-century equivalent of NASA. On behalf of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth he was conducting explorations at the very edge of human knowledge." Such a comparison across the centuries brings to the reader, in just two sentences, the magnitude of the work being conducted for its time.
This is no dry historic screed nor a baffling, jargon laden plunge into science. It is a potentially complex tale very understandably told with individual strands expertly teased out and then carefully interwoven into a narrative I found hard to put down. It tells of characters from the past involved in science, industry, exploration and art, some familiar and some not so. Moore does an admirable job of linking their achievements without losing the thrust of the overall story.
A few days ago I left my bed at just past 1AM and headed into the basement due to a tornado warning for the vicinity of my home. An hour later a number of houses a few miles away had been wrecked but, due to the warning, no lives lost. Thanks to this book I now know of those to whom I owe an historic debt of thanks for such a warning.
I gave this review four stars as Amazon seems to be plagued with more five star reviews than there are stars in the night sky. I know fellow avid readers who are now not even bothering to read them any more as it is wastefully time consuming to wade through the reviews that seem to be planted by those with commercial interests in the product or those written by 'fans' who seem to live in a stark world of brilliant/rubbish dichotomy. I enjoyed this book very much. It is one of the best non-fiction books I have read in the last twelve months - and I read a lot. However, I hope a four star review will be seen by anyone whose curiosity is aroused by this book to be an attempt at a thoughtful, balanced and ultimately helpful review.