Although sometimes enormously destructive, wind is also one of the elements that make life on Earth possible. Without it, the intense solar radiation beating down on the tropics would have no way of escaping. Wind warms the higher latitudes and moderates the equatorial regions, and carries evaporated moisture from oceans to land, where the moisture descends as rain. Wind sculpted the rivers that nurtured the earliest of human civilizations. Even hurricanes are an essential part of the planet's self-regulatory system.Windswept is the story of humankind's long struggle to understand wind and weather-from the wind gods of ancient times to early discoveries of the dynamics of air movement to high-tech schemes to control hurricanes. Marq de Villiers is equally adept at explaining the science of wind as he is at presenting dramatic personal stories of encounters with gales and storms. Running through his narrative is the dramatic story of Hurricane Ivan, the only storm on record to three times reach Category 5 status (sustaining winds greater than 155 miles per hour) in its path of death and destruction from the Sahara to North America, where it traveled from Texas to Newfoundland. We have made great strides in understanding how wind affects weather, but much is left to learn about how global warming and pollution may impact the winds themselves. The stakes are high because, as Hurricane Katrina so vividly reminded us, anything that affects the winds eventually affects human life.

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