Cautionary Tales – Frankenstein Versus the Volcano


When Mount Tambora erupted it spewed ash throughout the globe; blotting out the solar; poisoning crops; and bringing hunger, sickness and demise to thousands and thousands. It might even have helped encourage nice scientific and cultural advances – together with the horror masterpiece Frankenstein. How properly can we adapt to disaster and what are the boundaries of our skill to climate even the worst circumstances?

Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It’s produced by Ryan Dilley, with assist from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

The sound design and unique music is the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Due to the staff at Pushkin Industries, together with Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morana, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.

[Apple] [Spotify] [Stitcher]

Additional studying and listening

Wolfgang Behringer “Tambora and the Yr with out a Summer season

Gillian D’Arcy Wooden “Tambora: The Eruption That Shook The World

William and Nicholas Klingaman “The Yr with out Summer season

Robert Evans “Blast from the Previous” Smithsonian Journal July 2002

Jill Lepore “The Unusual and Twisted Lifetime of ‘Frankenstein’The New Yorker 5 Feb 2018

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein and the Villa Diodati

In our Time: The Yr With out A Summer season

Mick Hamer “Brimstone and bicycles” New Scientist 26 January 2005

Michele Acuto, Shaun Larcom, Ferdinand Rauch and Tim Willems “Calamity Is a wonderful trainer

Bruce Sacerdote “When the Saints Go Marching Out

Deryugina, Kawano and Levitt “The Financial Influence of Hurricane Katrina on its Victims

Emi Nakamura et al “The Present of Shifting



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