Since then, I have written a whole series of general books, most of which are still in print. Some of them have been breakthrough books for me, notably The Adventure of Archaeology, an account of archaeological discovery published by National Geographic in 1985, which exposed my writing to a very large audience. The following year, the London publishers Thames and Hudson, asked me to write The Great Journey (1987), an account of the first settlement of the Americas. This received wide attention and was followed by The Journey from Eden, the story of the origin and spread of modern humans.
In recent years I’ve written five books on historical climate change and related topics: Floods, Famines, and Emperors (2000), The Little Ice Age (2002), and The Long Summer (2004) discuss major climatic change and short-term extreme weather events over the past 15,000 years. They have caused considerable interest, for they provide a historical background to current debates on global warming. Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting and the Discovery of the New World (2006) is a journey into the little-known world of medieval fishing and how Christian doctrine played a major role in the growth of Atlantic fisheries. Climate change plays an important part in this story as well. The Great Warming (2008), which briefly became a New York Times non-fiction bestseller, tells the story of the Medieval Warm Period (see Other Fagan Books). Cro-Magnon (2009) tells the story of a remarkable late Ice Age people, the first modern humans to settle in Europe during the late Ice Age, while Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind (2010) traces the complex relationship between ancient societies and that most precious of resources—water. Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean (2012) is an account of the earliest seafaring, written on the basis of my personal experience at sea. My latest climate change book is The Attacking Ocean (2013), an account of rising sea levels and their impacts on ancient human societies. Since then, I have been working on the history of humans and animals, the subject of The Intimate Bond (2015). Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about writing archaeology for general audiences. Each book brings new challenges, fresh ideas, and additional things to learn about writing and writing about the past. How do I do it, I’m frequently asked. This is not an easy question to answer, so I’ve written a short paperback called, appropriately, Writing Archaeology, (2nd edition, 2010), as a guide to fellow archaeologists thinking about writing about the past for public audience (see Other Fagan Books).
As well as writing about archaeology, I also lecture about a wide variety of topics to audiences of all kinds both in North America and overseas. Many of the audiences have broad interests in everything ranging from water and climate change to ancient emergencies.
Fortunately, I have other interests in life other than archaeology and history. I’ve been a cruising sailor since age eight, have sailed widely in European and American waters, as well as in the Pacific, and owned a wide variety of boats. I now sail with a co-op yacht club. My interests include cats, bicycling, good food, and sea kayaking. I’m married with two daughters and we live in Santa Barbara, California, accompanied by three felines and sometimes, but fortunately not always, up to 24 rabbits.
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