Island on Fire

Island on Fire by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Island on Fire:

Who would have thought little Iceland could cause so much trouble?

Quick synopsis:

The story of Laki, the volcano in Iceland which erupted in the 18th century and messed a lot of stuff up.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

When Krakatau erupted in 1883, it sent out shock-waves which circled the Earth seven times.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

For a different Icelandic volcanic eruption in 1973, Icelanders sprayed seawater at lava to keep it from destroying a harbor.

My Take on Island on Fire:

Volcano go boom and everyone dies. You’ve heard the story and seen the movies. But that’s not how Laki in Iceland rolls, and Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe are here to tell you about it.

Island on Fire is really good even though it is not what I expected at all. I thought it would be another disaster book where it follows a few people as they attempt to run from a lava spewing volcano. A Pompeii redux, if you will. No Laki is more of a slow burn which slowly kills a ton of people through famine and ash. And since it was 1783, there was little anyone can do about it.

The book jumps around quite a bit from the science of volcanos to the effects on Iceland folk when Laki erupts to what it did to people outside of Iceland. Laki had far ranging consequences and you learn all about them.

Often, it can be aggravating when a book covers so much ground, but Witz and Kanipe keep everything to the point while digging into the lives of those effected by LAki’s eruption. I really liked this book, and it has a little something for everyone.


A great read for just about everyone. Buy it here!

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2 responses to “Island on Fire by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe”

  1. CTMK Avatar

    This one sounds interesting but I worry I’d be confused with the jumpy around lol

    1. Brendan Dowd Avatar
      Brendan Dowd

      No, they make it pretty clear when they jump from science to history. You’ll be fine!

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