Indonesia's volcanoes: recommended books and reading

Volcanoes of Indonesia: Creators and Destroyers

by Andrew Wight (Author), Carl-Bend Kaehlig (Photographer)

Didier Millet,Csi; Revised ed. edition (Feb 13, 2013)


Hardcover (144 pages)

As part of the Ring of Fire, Indonesia is one of the most volcanic countries on earth. The archipelago is home to many dormant volcanoes as well as some of the most violent volcanoes on the planet; the infamous Mt Merapi in Java erupts at least once a decade, often with devastating effects. Most people are aware of the destruction that volcanoes are capable of causing but few stop to consider how beneficial they are to the environment and population. Indonesia’s ability to grow crops and sustain its population is in large part thanks to fertile volcanic soil. The country’s volcanoes have literally and figuratively shaped the nation. In his approximately 25 years living in Indonesia, photographer Carl-Bernd Kaehlig has climbed many of these monster mountains and learnt the myths and legends surrounding them from his local guides. Volcanoes of Indonesia: Creators and Destroyers is a mesmerising collection of Kaehlig’s best photographs, which are accompanied by informative captions and an introductory essay that gives the reader a sense of the importance of these mountains.  

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883

by Simon Winchester

Harper Collins (2005)


Paperback (432 pages)

A classic book and must-read about one of the most famous and most devastating volcanic eruptions in historic times. The legendary explosion of the Krakatau volcano in 1883 has since become a byword for a cataclysmic disaster. It was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event that has only very recently been properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round die planet for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid with lurid and unsettling displays of light. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogotá and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims: one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Simon Winchester's long experience in the world wandering as well as his knowledge of history and geology give us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event as he brings it telling back to life.  

The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History

by William K. Klingaman, Nicholas P. Klingaman

St. Martin's Press (2013)


Paperback (352 pages)

Like Winchester's Krakatoa, The Year Without Summer reveals a year of dramatic global change long forgotten by history In the tradition of Krakatoa, The World Without Us, and Guns, Germs and Steel comes a sweeping history of the year that became known as 18-hundred-and-froze-to-death. 1816 was a remarkable year?mostly for the fact that there was no summer. As a result of a volcanic eruption in Indonesia, weather patterns were disrupted worldwide for months, allowing for excessive rain, frost, and snowfall through much of the Northeastern U.S. and Europe in the summer of 1816. In the U.S., the extraordinary weather produced food shortages, religious revivals, and extensive migration from New England to the Midwest. In Europe, the cold and wet summer led to famine, food riots, the transformation of stable communities into wandering beggars, and one of the worst typhus epidemics in history. 1816 was the year Frankenstein was written. It was also the year Turner painted his fiery sunsets. All of these things are linked to global climate change?something we are quite aware of now, but that was utterly mysterious to people in the nineteenth century, who concocted all sorts of reasons for such an ungenial season. Making use of a wealth of source material and employing a compelling narrative approach featuring peasants and royalty, politicians, writers, and scientists, The Year Without Summer by William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman examines not only the climate change engendered by this event, but also its effects on politics, the economy, the arts, and social structures.  

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