ABOUT THIS BOOK
Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.
That’s Pliny the Younger, writing to Tacitus about the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, one of many volcanic eruptions that have become part of the story of human history. We have always, it seems, been simultaneously fascinated and terrified by volcanoes, and this book brings together an unforgettable selection of firsthand accounts from around the world and through the centuries.
In these pages, anonymous seventeenth-century seafarers tell of exploding islands, Alexander Von Humboldt and Charles Darwin show us volcanoes through the eyes of developing science, and artists sketch the spectacular London sunsets created by the eruption of Krakatoa, half the world away. As the years pass, words and paintings give way to the first photograph of an eruption, and eventually to detailed satellite imagery, but the awesome force of volcanoes still comes through, sublime and spectacular.
As we were reminded in 2010 when the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull snarled travel throughout Europe, volcanoes remain powerful and unpredictable even today. In the pages of this book, we can appreciate their majesty from a safe distance.