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Distributed for Reaktion Books


Nature and Culture

Distributed for Reaktion Books


Nature and Culture

For years, tourists have trekked across cracked rock at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano to witness the awe-inspiring sight of creeping lava and its devastating effects on the landscape. In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland, stranding travelers as a cloud of ash covered western and northern Europe, causing the largest disruption of air travel since World War II. And just a few months later, Mount Merapi blew in Indonesia, killing over 350 people and displacing over 350,000 others, awakening people once more to the dangerous potential of these sleeping giants.

Though today largely dormant, volcanoes continue to erupt across the world, reminding us of their sheer physical power. In Volcano, James Hamilton explores the cultural history generated by the violence and terrifying beauty of volcanoes. He describes the reverberations of early eruptions of Vesuvius and Etna in Greek and Roman myth. He also examines the depiction of volcanoes in art—from the earliest known wall painting of an erupting volcano in 6200 BCE to the distinctive colors of Andy Warhol and Michael Sandle’s exploding mountains. Surveying a number of twenty-first-century works, Hamilton shows that volcanoes continue to influence the artistic imagination.
Combining established figures such as Joseph Wright and J. M. W. Turner with previously unseen perspectives, this richly illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in science as well as the cultural impact of these spectacular natural features.

208 pages | 100 color plates, 10 halftones | 5 4/5 x 8 1/4 | © 2012


Earth Sciences: General Earth Sciences

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“Richly enhanced by spectacular photographs and artwork. . . . Written in a nontechnical style and have an interdisciplinary, international focus. The high-quality illustrations scattered throughout each chapter are a major strength. The humanities perspective provides a fresh look at two remarkable natural phenomena.” 


"A fascinating read, the text covers all types of volcanoes across the world, and relates them to the paintings, wood engravings, and a fresco from Pompeii. The linking of history, mythology, and geological fact is flawless, providing fascinating insights into different cultures, the progress of Christianity, and also the technique of painting."

School Librarian

“At last, a series of books on the earth for lay people that combine authoritative, succinct, and entertaining narrative with magnificent illustrations. The Earth series will make us marvel anew at the diversity and astounding beauty of the world around us. Each book will take popular understanding of the earth to a new level. No one seriously interested in the future of our planet should be without them.”

Brian M. Fagan, author of "The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations"

“An arresting collage of mythology, philosophy, literature, and spectacular works of visual art inspired by nature’s most exuberant phenomenon—Hamilton’s unique and imaginative miscellany and cultural geography of volcanoes and volcanology is a veritable treasure trove.”

Clive Oppenheimer, volcanologist and author of "Eruptions That Shook the World"

“James Hamilton elegantly conjures up the imagery and impact of volcanic events around the world, through centuries and across continents, mastering this complex topic with an observant eye, an incisive mind, and a fluent pen; it’s a book to read and then keep coming back to, again and again.”

Gillian Darley, author of "Vesuvius: The Most Famous Volcano in the World"

Table of Contents


1. ’The Whole Sea Boiled and Blazed’
2. The Geography, Science and Allure of Volcanoes
3. ’A Horrid Inundation of Fire’
4. Sir William Hamilton and the Lure of Vesuvius
5. The First Days of Graham Island and the Last Days of Pompeii
6. Krakatoa Shakes the World
7. ’The Night had Vanished’: Vorticism and the Volcano
8. The Shifting Furnace

Eruption Timeline
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements

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