In 1997 and 1998, one of the most powerful El Ninos ever recorded disrupted weather patterns all over the world. Europe suffered through a record freeze as the American west was hit with massive floods and snow-storms; in the Western Pacific, meanwhile, some island nations literally went bone dry and had to have water flown in on transport planes. In this book, archaeologist Brian Fagan shows that such effects are not new - El Nino has been disrupting weather patterns on and off for at least 5000 years, sometimes with catastrophic effects on civilizations. El Nino-driven droughts have brought on the collapse of dynasties in Egypt; El Nino monsoon failures have caused historic famines in India; and El Nino floods have destroyed whole civilizations in Peru and changed the course of European exploration. These events were not isolated but had a lasting influence on the later course of these civilizations for centuries.
Brian Fagan is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he has written many internationally acclaimed books of popular archaeology, including Ancient North America, Archaeology- A Brief Introduction and From Land to Fifth Sun.