Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

Review: Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Cynthia Barnett
Crown Publishers

Rain.  I nearly went on by this one, but now I’m glad I picked it up.  The endorsements called it captivating, imaginative, lyrical, insightful, and other accolades.  I think I’ll call it original and brave.  The reason I picked it up in the beginning was to explore how someone could write a novel length, nonfiction book about rain of all things, and make it interesting to a layman.  Well, Barnett has succeeded in doing just that.

I expected a science book only, totally missing the entirety of the subtitle.  Culture?  Rain has culture and a history to boot?  Yes, it does.  One that is not just Western in scope.  Seems everyone is dependent on rain, and the shape of their culture defines that interest over its history.  

The organization of this book reminded me of a mind map---rain with all the little connected bubbles and their little sub-bubbles a person might see on that sort of map.  Science, social, religion, industry, politics, war, peace, local TV weather personalities, Thomas Jefferson gets more than a nod, as does the journalist’s challenge of covering the monsoon season when the rains don’t come, and more.  

The author strings the gems found in her research into a lovely work.  It can be read cover to cover, or the reader can just nibble at a chapter somewhere along the way.  Whether the reader agrees with some of conclusions or not, this is a good read.  It is a unique look at rain and all that it is to this planet and its inhabitants.  It will give you something to think about now and the next time it rains where you are.

I received this book form the publisher in return for a review.

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