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The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies Paperback – 4 Jun 2010


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The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies + The Cloud Book: How to Understand the Skies + The Met Office Pocket Cloud Book
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (4 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033039195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330391955
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Hamblyn is the author of The Invention of Clouds, which won the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Terra: Tales of the Earth, a study of natural disasters, described by the Guardian as 'beautifully written, richly detailed and brilliantly judged'; and The Art of Science: A Natural History of Ideas, a collection of 101 pieces of readable science writing from the Babylonians to the Higgs boson.

He has also written three illustrated books in association with the Met Office: The Cloud Book; Extraordinary Clouds; and Extraordinary Weather, as well editing Daniel Defoe's The Storm for Penguin Classics.

Richard currently teaches on the Creative Writing BA at Birkbeck College, University of London, and is working on a collection of (mostly) true stories about (mostly) made-up landscapes.


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Nov 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was a really interesting book, well written and with lots to ponder. The author goes back to luminaries like Aristotle and Pliny, as well as focusing on scientists from the early 19th century, and offers a fascinating trawl through the history of science. I don't usually read science books, but this didn't feel like a science book to me, more like a biography with some science thrown in. Brilliant.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Nov 2001
Format: Hardcover
When Luke Howard named the clouds in 1802 the event caused a sensation, firstly in London, where the lecture was held, then throughout Europe, through publication of the lecture in essay form, and finally throughout the world. This shy young Quaker meterorologist became a scientific celebrity, courted by luminaries such as Shelley, Constable and Goethe, who wrote poems in his honour, and referred to himself as 'a disciple of Howard'.
This is such an unusual story, and it's well told, with lots of details about the lives and times of Howard's contemporaries, and many fascinating asides about ballooning (invented in 1783 by two French brothers), arctic exploration and the development of the Beaufort wind scale.
This is a must for anyone interested in the history of meterorology, or just in the story of how one ordinary man sought to understand the world around him. Highly recommended.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Nov 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is more than a biography of one man: it also a fascinating compendium of little-known facts about clouds and much else besides. I didn't know, for example, that clouds last on average only ten minutes, or that the biggest clouds of all - the cumulonimbus, or rain cloud - can hold up to half a million tons of water. Neither did I know that the expression 'cloud nine' came from the international cloud classification number for cumulonimbus (although sadly, cumulonimbus is these days classified as cloud ten).
The story of Luke Howard is woven brilliantly through all this material, and it keeps you reading to find out more about him, as well as about weather and clouds. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I look up at the sky now with new interest.
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