Mountains of Fire: The Menace, Meaning, and Magic of Volcanoes (Hardcover)

Mountains of Fire: The Menace, Meaning, and Magic of Volcanoes By Clive Oppenheimer Cover Image

Mountains of Fire: The Menace, Meaning, and Magic of Volcanoes (Hardcover)


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Meeting with volcanoes around the world, a volcanologist interprets their messages for humankind.
In Mountains of Fire, Clive Oppenheimer invites readers to stand with him in the shadow of an active volcano. Whether he is scaling majestic summits, listening to hissing lava at the crater’s edge, or hunting for the far-flung ashes from Earth’s greatest eruptions, Oppenheimer is an ideal guide, offering readers the chance to tag along on the daring, seemingly-impossible journeys of a volcanologist.

In his eventful career as a volcanologist and filmmaker, Oppenheimer has studied volcanoes around the world. He has worked with scientists in North Korea to study Mount Paektu, a volcano name sung in national anthems on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone. He has crossed the Sahara to reach the fabled Tiéroko volcano in the Tibesti Mountains of Chad. He spent months camped atop Antarctica’s most active volcano, Mount Erebus, to record the pulse of its lava lake.

Mountains of Fire reveals how volcanic activity is entangled with our climate and environment, as well as our economy, politics, culture, and beliefs. These adventures and investigations make clear the dual purpose of volcanology—both to understand volcanoes for science’s sake and to serve the communities endangered and entranced by these mountains of fire. 
Clive Oppenheimer is a volcanologist and filmmaker who has conducted fieldwork around the world. He is professor of volcanology at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Eruptions That Shook the World, and he has made two documentary features with Werner Herzog, Into the Inferno and Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226826349
ISBN-10: 0226826341
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: September 27th, 2023
Pages: 352
Language: English
“Mr. Oppenheimer is at his best when discussing how volcanoes are integral parts of nature’s vast, involuted networks of sky, land, oceans and subterranean regions.”
— Wall Street Journal

"University of Cambridge geologist Oppenheimer weaves together the history of volcanology with tales from his own work. . . The fervent prose captures the force and excitement of Oppenheimer’s subject, and the enlightening science is bolstered by fascinating insights into volcanoes’ role in myth. . . This will blow readers away."
— Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

“Readers will marvel at Oppenheimer’s close calls, risky research, and elegant writing style that delightfully weaves his perilous excursions with exacting science and rich ethnography.”
— Booklist

“Oppenheimer recounts a life spent studying volcanoes up close. He is an extraordinary individual who somehow finds serenity in the chaos at a volcano’s crater. . . . A tale of gripping adventure, undertaken in the constant shadow of death by volcanic mishap, appalling weather, lawlessness, or warfare.”
— New York Review of Books

“Beautiful. Mountains of Fire is bursting with poetry, with storytelling. Clive is one of the rarest of men driven by nomadism, courage, and curiosity. What he studies, volcanic eruptions, are in the rank of things that are mighty, grave, and great.”
— Werner Herzog, film director and producer

"I absolutely loved this book—it's so full of passion, wonderment, philosophy, anthropology and most of all volcanoes! It ignited my mind and delighted my imagination. I loved the deep and poignant connections between history, meaning and people, but it’s Clive Oppenheimer’s dazzling charisma and thrilling experiences that infuse this book with an energy befitting our planet’s most powerful force."
— Sara Dosa, director of the Academy Award–nominated film "Fire of Love"

"Through a global tour of some of the world’s most fascinating volcanoes, Oppenheimer highlights the scientific insights from, and social impacts of, various eruptions. From North Korea to Antarctica to the Caribbean, he brings the reader along with extraordinary access onto the very flanks of volcanoes. Oppenheimer’s deep knowledge of these mountains of fire, combined with his eye for detail and his deep respect for those living alongside volcanoes, yields a thoroughly delightful and accessible exploration of these geological wonders."
— Alexandra Witze, science journalist and coauthor (with Jeff Kanipe) of "Island on Fire"

“Witty, precise, evocative—Clive Oppenheimer is a beautiful writer and spectacular scholar. He guides us safely through the smelly, noisy blast furnaces of volcanic craters and lava flows. Mountains of Fire tells the story of a volcano doctor who measures the temperature and chemical compounds in volcanic ‘breath’ while recounting the history, adventures, and spirituality surrounding these wonders of the world.”
— Terry Plank, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

"A fantastic account of the power and importance of volcanoes to history. Clive Oppenheimer takes us on a wonderful tour of some of the world's best and least known volcanoes in a book that will make all readers want to become volcanologists."
— Peter Frankopan

"Breathtaking. Weaving together geology, history, culture with dramatic personal adventure, Clive Oppenheimer takes us deep into the beating heart of our planet."
— Anil Seth, author of "Being You"

"Thrilling! An explosive account of the inner lives of volcanoes, and how they have touched our lives through history. Adventurous, gripping science writing at its very best."
— Lewis Dartnell, author of "Origins"

"An engrossing, richly detailed journey into the mysterious world of volcanos and volcano enthusiasts. Clive Oppenheimer's passion for his subject begins in the realm of science and ends with the human soul."
— Helen Gordon, author of "Notes from Deep Time"

"Oppenheimer conjures up volcanoes with science and humanity. Fired by his and others’ fieldwork at the crater’s edge, his appealing book is grounded in the reasoning of thinkers far from the flames and lava."
— Nature

“What the French adventurer Jacques Cousteau was to the hidden world under our seas, Oppenheimer is to the hidden, molten world bubbling under our feet. Werner Herzog, the German art-house documentary maker, has even suggested he should be the BBC’s successor to David Attenborough.”
— The Sunday Times

“We can’t all travel the globe to risk our lives at the crater’s edge, but we have Oppenheimer’s prose to get us nearly there.”
— New Scientist

“A billion people live within 50 miles of [an active volcano], and our chances of surviving eruptions depend on others risking their lives to understand them. It’s an excellent thing that scientists like Oppenheimer exist to pursue such a noble cause.”
— The Times

“Being a volcanologist demands a quiverful of skills. You need to be in command of multiple branches of science, including geophysics, geochemistry, and seismology. But you must also understand people living near volcanoes, for whom they are sacred places, homes to ancestors, sites of miracles, mountains where God’s intervention in human affairs is made manifest in ash, fumes, and flame. . . . Perhaps one final attribute of a volcanologist is that he should be a good storyteller. Oppenheimer is better than good. This is terrific.”
— The Spectator

“Oppenheimer has spent 13 seasons—cumulatively an entire year of his life—living near the summit of Mount Erebus. In Mountains of Fire he regales readers with gripping stories of his travels, as well as those of adventurers past. He does not just describe what the volcanoes look like, but how they feel and what they mean to the people who encounter them. . . . Mountains of Fire is a love letter to volcanoes and an investigation into all the ways that they have and continue to sustain humanity—spiritually and scientifically.”
— The Economist