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Friday, September 6, 2019

Audible Book Review: The Coming Storm by Michael Lewis

This was a timely, quick listen as Hurricane Dorian took aim toward the US east coast.
The Coming Storm
By: Michael Lewis
Narrated by: Michael Lewis
The Coming Storm audiobook cover art
Length: 2 hrs and 27 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 07-31-18
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Original
Category: Environment, Political/Policies, Science & Technology
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0 Overall; Story 3.75; Narration 4.0.

About This Audible Original
Tornadoes, cyclones, tsunamis…Weather can be deadly—especially when it strikes without warning. Millions of Americans could soon find themselves at the mercy of violent weather if the public data behind lifesaving storm alerts gets privatized for personal gain. In his first Audible Original, New York Times best-selling author and journalist Michael Lewis delivers hard-hitting research on not-so-random weather data—and how Washington plans to release it. He also digs deep into the lives of two scientists who revolutionized climate predictions, bringing warning systems to previously unimaginable levels of accuracy. One is Kathy Sullivan, a gifted scientist among the first women in space; the other, D.J. Patil, is a trickster-turned-mathematician and a political adviser. Most urgently, Lewis’s narrative reveals the potential cost of putting a price tag on information that could save lives. Please note The Fifth Risk includes the entirety of The Coming Storm.
© 2018 Michael Lewis (P) 2018 Audible Originals, LLC

Author Michael Lewis describes several mostly unknown individuals who found their passions in studying weather – its history, its patterns for forecasting and its impact on environment, economics and the lives of the damaged communities. This makes this short documentary piece personal as well as somewhat informative.
Lewis tells bits of the story of developing weather data that got lost in the halls of government. Lewis may have intended to present a brief discourse blending science and politics. It seemed he left out some of the final connections regarding the data and forecasting accuracies other than to describe an incident of a 15-minute warning of a tornado which may be the best they can get. The work felt more intent on making political arguments particularly raising the (perhaps valid?) question of whether critical weather information should be publicly available rather than controlled and released to limited stations who have paid subscriptions. Apparently, the US Department of Commerce includes oversight of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) so there are concerns regarding the sourcing of data.

I was quickly engaged by the storytelling technique that made this a more interesting listen. I am glad I listened to this as it brought this concerning issue to my attention. Since I experienced the damage of Hurricane Michael last year and there are millions of people facing weather disasters on a regular basis, this is an important issue to keep an eye on.

Audio Notes: Michael Lewis provides the narration for his own excerpt and it fit the material and tone. I think it is easier for me to listen to this type of work than reading it so I am glad I got this through free Audible Originals.

Source: 9/8/18 Free Audible Originals. This qualifies for 2019TBR and 2019Audiobook goals.

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