The odds of being hit by lightning each year are only about 1 in 750,000 in the U.S. And yet this rare phenomenon has inspired both fear and fascination for thousands of years. In this groundbreaking, brilliantly researched book, journalist John S. Friedman probes lightning’s scientific, spiritual, and cultural roots. Blending vibrant history with riveting first-hand accounts of those who have clashed with lightning and lived to tell about it, Out of the Blue charts an extraordinary journey across the ages that explores our awe and dread in the face of one of nature’s most fearsome spectacles.
Herman Melville called it “God’s burning finger.” The ancient Romans feared it as the wrath of God. Today we have a more scientific understanding, so why our eternal fascination with lightning? Out of the Blue attempts to understand this towering force of nature, exploring the changing perceptions of lightning from the earliest civilizations through Ben Franklin’s revolutionary experiments to the hair-raising adventures of storm chasers like David Hoadley, who’s been chronicling extreme weather for half a century. And Friedman describes one of the most treacherous rescues ever attempted in American mountain climbing.
Friedman profiles a Virginia ranger who was struck by lightning seven times—and dubbed the human lightning rod—along with scores of others who tell astonishing tales of rescue and survival. And he charts lightning’s profound, life-altering effects on the emotional and spiritual lives of its victims.
Combining captivating fact with thrilling personal stories, Out of the Blue tells a remarkable true tale of fate and coincidence, discovery and divine retribution, science and superstition. As entertaining as it is informative, it is a book for outdoor adventurers, sports enthusiasts, science and weather buffs, nature lovers, and anyone who has ever been awed or frightened by the sight of lightning.