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A Natural and Cultural History

4 (21 ratings)
10 mins

Brief summary

Rain by Cynthia Barnett is a historic and scientific account of how humans have tried to control and understand rain, and how it has shaped civilizations. It explores the importance of water and the necessity for humanity to preserve it.

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    Rain can give life and destroy it too.

    Where would we be without water? Well, we wouldn’t be anywhere at all! Life on earth would not have developed if it weren’t for water. Today, water sustains our living world. It’s no wonder then that humanity has always worshipped rainfall.

    Native Americans created dances to summon the rain. The Prophet Muhammad performed rain prayers, casting his arms skyward and turning his cloak inside out. In Judaism, rain is prayed for every year on the eighth day of the harvest festival, Sukkot. In 2011, following a three-month drought, a Christian governor of Texas declared the three days from April 22 through 24 as official prayer days for rain.

    A lack of rainfall has, of course, been a serious threat for communities throughout history and around the world. However, too much rainfall is just as dangerous! Heavy rain brings mold, rot and mosquitoes with it, which in turn spread diseases.

    Torrential rain can even wipe out crops and cause widespread famine, which is what occurred in Europe during the Great Famine of 1315–1322. Heavy summer rain prevented grain from maturing, which meant no crops could be seeded in autumn. The rains continued through spring and the sowing of oats, barley and spelt was impossible.

    These rains not only caused some three million people to starve to death, they also led to a wave of brutal witch-hunting. Witches were accused of bringing on the hail and thunderstorms that had damaged the crops. Whether it’s the source of life or the bringer of death, rain is certainly powerful!

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    What is Rain about?

    Rain (2015) tells the story of one of the most valued, destructive and inspiring natural forces on our planet. These blinks trace a journey from rain worship in ancient cultures to the use of weather forecasting throughout the ages – and even the scientific explanation behind raining frogs.

    Rain Review

    Rain (2015) by Cynthia Barnett is a fascinating exploration of the history, science, and cultural significance of rain. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through engaging storytelling and in-depth research, Barnett uncovers the hidden beauty and complexity of something we often take for granted.
    • By exploring the impact of rain on different aspects of our lives, from agriculture to art, Barnett highlights its profound influence on our society and environment.
    • With her accessible and thought-provoking writing, Barnett manages to turn what could be a mundane topic into a captivating journey of discovery.

    Best quote from Rain

    Rain can be a Janus; at once the face of salvation and despair.

    —Cynthia Barnett
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    Who should read Rain?

    • Anyone interested in the relationship between the natural world and human civilization
    • Hobby meteorologists seeking some background to the science

    About the Author

    Cynthia Barnett is an environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is the author of Mirage, which won the gold medal for best nonfiction title in the Florida Book Awards, and Blue Revolution, singled out as one of the top ten science books of 2011 by the Boston Globe.

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    Rain FAQs 

    What is the main message of Rain?

    The main message of Rain is the importance of appreciating and understanding the role that rain plays in our lives and our planet.

    How long does it take to read Rain?

    The reading time for Rain varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Rain a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Rain is a captivating exploration of the significance of rain in our world. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Rain?

    Cynthia Barnett is the author of Rain.

    What to read after Rain?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Rain, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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