An American Cultural History Since 1900
University Press of Kansas
On Sale: October 1, 2008
Add to Wish List
Everybody talks about it--and why not? From tornadoes in the
Heartland to hurricanes in the Gulf, blizzards in the
Midwest to droughts across the South, weather matters to
Americans and makes a difference in their daily lives.
Bernard Mergen's captivating and kaleidoscopic new book
illuminates our inevitable obsession with weather--as both
physical reality and evocative metaphor--in all of its
myriad forms, focusing on the ways in which it is perceived,
feared, embraced, managed, and even marketed. From the
roaring winds atop Mount Washington to the reflective calm
of the poet's lair, he takes a long-overdue look at public
response to weather in art, literature, and the media. In
the process, he reveals the cross-pollination of ideas and
perceptions about weather across many fields, including
science, government, education, and consumer culture.
Rich in detail and anecdote, Weather Matters is
filled with eccentric characters, quirky facts, and vividly
drawn events. Mergen elaborates on the curious question of
the "butterfly effect," tracing the notion to a 1918
suggestion that a grasshopper in Idaho could cause a
devastating storm in New York City. He chronicles the
history of the U.S. Weather Bureau and the American
Meteorological Society and their struggles for credibility,
as well as the rise of private meteorology and weather
modification--including the military's flirtation with
manipulating weather as a weapon. And he recounts an
eight-day trip with storm chasers, a gripping tale of
weather at its fiercest that shows scientists putting their
lives at stake in the pursuit of data.
Mergen contends that the popularity of weather as a topic of
conversation can be found in its quasi-religious power: the
way it illuminates the paradoxes of order and disorder in
daily life--a way of understanding the roles of chance,
scientific law, and free will that makes our experience of
weather uniquely American. Brimming with new insights into
familiar experiences, Weather Matters makes phenomena
like Hurricane Katrina and global warming at once more
understandable and more troubling--examples of our inability
to really control the environment--as it gives us a new way
of looking at our everyday world.
This book is part of
the CultureAmerica series.
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!