Reviews & awards

Shortlisted for the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

One of the Seattle Times critics’ best books of 2015

One of Physics World‘s best books of 2014 (UK edition)


Sample reviews:

“Human drama and tragedy mix with science here. The science may enlighten readers with no prior knowledge of volcanism, but the human story carries the book.” — Bill Streever, Dallas Morning News

“A brilliant book.” — Casey Cep, Pacific Standard

“A book that will surely make you want to go to Iceland, or at least pay careful heed to the next time one if its many volcanoes erupt.” — David B. Williams, Seattle Times

“A blend of popular science and historical research, with more than a touch of Doomsday prophecy about it.” — Nick Smith, E&T Magazine

“This book…won us over….Witze and Kanipe skilfully interweave the science of the “bigger picture” (including modern-day climate change) with the human story of Jón Steingrímsson, a priest and early volcanologist who recorded the devastating effects that Laki’s eruption had on his parish.” — Physics World, in announcing Island on Fire as one of its top 10 books of 2014

“Much of the research is amazing and is deftly woven into a strong narrative. The result is a book that is steeped in science, but also history and the stories of people affected by a little-known landmark event.” — Tom Henry, SEJournal

“Steingrimsson left the most detailed eyewitness account of any eruption up to that time, in which he describes the falling ash being “as long and thick as a seal’s hair”, while gouts of molten lava splash on the earth ‘like cowpats'” — The Economist

“A compelling and readable account that is readily accessible and illuminating, and provides some fascinating examples of the intersections between volcanoes, humans and society….Succeeds as a ‘popular science’ text, covering complex aspects of science with a light touch, [yet] a useful source book for students of geography, Earth and environmental science.” — David Pyle, volcanologist, University of Oxford, on his Volcanic Degassing blog

Island on Fire was the perfect book for me….I’ve read a lot of novels which didn’t hold my attention in quite the same way.” —The Bookbag

“Captivating.” — Science News

“The volcano so devastating people ate their own shoes!” — The Daily Mail


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