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Weather Companion

The Weather Companion

a book review by Arthur Lee Jacobson

The Weather Companion(An album of meteorological history, science, legend, and folklore) By Gary Lockhart. Published in 1988 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. Softcover, 239 pages. Many black & white line drawings by Karen Murphy. ISBN 0-471-62079-3.

    Weather is omnipresent and ever affects us, so our understanding of it is important. Gary Lockhart's weather book may be the best way for most of us to learn more about the subject
    The volume is splendidly designed, with, large, clear, pleasing type, illustrations on most pages, and an uncrowded feeling in general. Sixty 2- to 4-page chapters cover all we should expect in such a book: rain and raindances, floods, groundhogs, the moon and tides, global deforestation and plant-weather interactions, etc. In brief, a complete range of relevant topics, from borderline to mainstream. The style is entertaining, popular and engaging. There are numerous quotations. Here is a representative sample of Lockhart's prose:

    "The record rainfall for a short duration is 12 inches in 42 minutes at Holt, Missouri, in 1947. If we accept the Biblical flood of a statement of fact, then more than 10 times this amount fell continuously for 40 days." (page 200)

    The book's value, and its intended purpose, is to in general expand our understanding and in particular to give us useful facts and lore. Thus we can profit from an erudite, well-researched presentation that reveals facets of nature which would have never occurred to us; and learn the best time to go fishing or what trees to seek shelter under during lightning --and (naturally) how to predict the weather. On a higher level we may develop a keener appreciation of the dreadful significance of rain forest destruction.
    The unique feature of this book is its dealing with all issues, and in a manner that cannot help but impress and please. It is a book of science that can be read with pleasure. It is as well researched as any college textbook, with a bibliography whose scope (1825 to the 1980s, obscure to standard works) proves it. But where The Weather Companion differs from so many textbooks is in its warmth and lack of rigid, plodding, totally unromantic scholarly style. Never a rose without a thorn, the learned among us will discern occasional technical glitches in the book. But these pale into insignificance with its virtues.


(Originally published on page 5 of the December 1988 newsletter of the Friends of the Medicinal Herb Garden of the University of Washington, Seattle. Since then, the book has been reprinted at least a dozen times, and last time I checked was retailing for $17.95. Also, the author died of a heart attack on September 18 2001, leaving in the care of myself and his siblings his varied and invaluable unpublished manuscripts, including notes for a second weather book.)

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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