Rain cover

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History

Longlisted for the National Book Award
A finalist for the 2016 PEN/E.O.Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing
An NPR Science Friday Best Book of 2015
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A Tampa Bay Times Favorite Book of 2015
A Miami Herald Favorite Book of 2015

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of all the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.

Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science – the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains – with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky
with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.

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Blue Revolution cover

Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis

A Top 10 Science Book of 2011/The Boston Globe

Blue Revolution makes the case for a water ethic for America. From backyard waterfalls and grottoes in California to sinkholes swallowing chunks of Florida, award-winning journalist Cynthia Barnett exposes how the nation’s green craze largely missed water – the No. 1 environmental concern of most Americans. But the book is big on inspiration, too. Blue Revolution combines investigative reporting with solutions from around the nation and the globe. From San Antonio to Singapore, Barnett shows how local communities and entire nations have come together in a shared ethic to dramatically reduce consumption and live within their water means.

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Mirage book cover

Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Gold Medal, Best Nonfiction/The Florida Book Awards
One of the Top 10 Books That Every Floridian Should Read/The Tampa Bay Times

Florida's parched swamps and sprawling subdivisions set the stage for a look at water crisis throughout the American East, from water-diversion threats in the Great Lakes to tapped-out freshwater aquifers along the Atlantic seaboard. Part investigative journalism, part environmental history, Mirage shows how the eastern half of the nation, historically so wet that early settlers predicted it would never even need irrigation, has squandered so much of its abundant fresh water that it now faces shortages and conflicts once unique to the arid West. From its calamitous opening scene of a sinkhole swallowing a house in Florida to its concluding meditation on the relationship between water and the American character, Mirage is a compelling and timely portrait of the use and abuse of fresh water in an era of rapidly vanishing natural resources.

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