The Last Volcano: A Man, A Romance, and the Quest to Understand Nature’s Most Magnificent Fury
by John Dvorak
Pegasus Books, 2015 (($28.95))
In the spring of 1902 a young geologist named Thomas Jaggar arrived in Martinique to observe a scene of desolation—piles of rubble, heaps of volcanic ash and charred bodies everywhere—in the wake of an eruption from Mount Pelée. The trip changed the course of Jaggar's life, spurring him to dedicate his career to the study of volcanoes and how to protect people from them. Volcano expert Dvorak chronicles Jaggar's quest, following him from his comfortable position at Harvard University to the relative wilds of the island of Hawaii, where he founded a small station on the rim of the Kilauea volcano to monitor an active lava lake. There he met a widowed schoolteacher who became his wife and eventually his partner in volcanology. The two shared a reverence for volcanoes as well as a horror at the destruction they cause, and their story is an inspiring tale of devotion, both to science and to each other.