Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future - Lauren Redniss
In this graphic history of weather, Thunder & Lightning (Random House, $35) are only the beginning. Weather can raise the dead, as floods following Hurricane Irene did in Vermont. Extreme cold accomplishes the same thing on the Svalbard Archipelago, gradually unearthing caskets. Lauren Redniss gives such phenomena the full attention and respect they deserve, conveying in words and hand-colored copperplate and photopolymer-process prints conditions ranging from chaos to rain to heat. As she did in her unforgettable treatment of Marie Curie, Radioactive, Redniss has carefully considered each detail of her book; she designed a new font, named after the Inuktitut for “falling snow.” She fills every page to the edges with colors and shapes, disregarding perspective as early naturalists did, intent on recording details for the sake of science. Often taking a counter-intuitive approach to her subject, Redniss discusses wind by entering the breathless crush of Mecca and by shadowing Diana Nyad across a turbulent Atlantic. She listens to Eucalyptus trees explode in the intense Australian wildfires and joins black kites diving into the crests of flames for insects. She also looks at what we’ve done with weather, from the cloud-seeding that made rain a weapon of mass destruction in the Vietnam War to the climate changes that are destabilizing permafrost. “For millennia people have found meaning and divinity in weather,”Redniss reminds us, and notes that before Gutenberg printed a bible, he produced an almanac, that “calendar of the heavens” that guides us through the Earthly storms.