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Michael Allaby (1933–) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

review weather york science

(John Michael Allaby)

Personal

Born 1933, in Belper, Derbyshire, England; Politics: "Left of center." Hobbies and other interests: "Reading (for pleasure as well as work), watching movies, listening to music, gardening, walking (gently!)."

Career

Variously employed as police cadet, 1949–51, and actor, 1954–64; Soil Association, Suffolk, England, member of editorial department, 1964–72, editor of Span, 1967–72; Michael AllabyEcosystems Ltd., Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, member of board of directors, associate editor of Ecologist, 1970–72, managing editor, 1972–73; freelance writer, 1973–. Military service: Royal Air Force, 1951–54, served as pilot; became pilot officer.

Member

Society for the History of Natural History, Planetary Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Institute of Biology (affiliate member), New York Academy of Sciences, British Society of Authors, Association of British Science Writers, National Association of Writers in Education.

Honors Awards

Runner-up, Times Educational Supplement Information Book Award, 1984, for The Food Chain; Hurricanes selected among New York Public Library's 1998 Books for the Teen Age; Aventis Junior Prize for Science Books, 2001, for How the Weather Works; Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate listed among Booklist Top-Ten Science Reference Sources, 2002; Society of School Librarians honor book selection, science 7-12 category, 2002.

Writings

NONFICTION

The Eco-Activists, Knight (London, England), 1971.

Who Will Eat? The World Food Problem, Stacey (London, England), 1972.

(With others) A Blueprint for Survival, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1972.

(With Colin Blythe and Colin Hines) Losing Ground: The First of Three Discussion Papers on United Kingdom Food Prospects, Friends of the Earth (London, England), 1974.

(With Floyd Allen) Robots behind the Plow: Modern Farming and the Need for an Organic Alternative, Rodale Press (Emmaus, PA), 1974.

Ecology, Hamlyn (New York, NY), 1975.

(With Marika Hanbury-Tenison, Hugh Sharman, and John Seymour) The Survival Handbook: Self-Sufficiency for Everyone, Macmillan (London, England), 1975.

Inventing Tomorrow: How to Live in a Changing World, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1976.

World Food Resources: Actual and Potential, Applied Science Publishers (London, England), 1977.

(With Colin Tudge) Home Farm: Complete Food Self-Sufficiency, Macmillan (London, England), 1977.

Animals That Hunt, Hamlyn (New York, NY), 1979.

Wildlife of North America, Hamlyn (New York, NY), 1979.

Making and Managing a Smallholding, David & Charles (North Pomfret, VT), 1980.

(With Peter Bunyard) The Politics of Self-Sufficiency, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1980.

A Year in the Life of a Field, David & Charles (North Pomfret, VT), 1981.

Le foreste tropicale, Instituto Geografico de Agostini (Italy), 1981.

Animal Artisans, Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.

(With Peter Crawford) The Curious Cat, M. Joseph (London, England), 1982.

(With James Lovelock) The Great Extinction: The Solution to One of the Great Mysteries of Science, the Disappearance of the Dinosaurs, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1983.

(With James Lovelock) The Greening of Mars, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.

2040: Our World in the Future, Gollancz (London, England), 1985.

Your Child and the Computer, Methuen (London, England), 1985.

(With Jane Burton) Your Cat's First Year, photographs by Burton and Kim Taylor, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Jane Burton) Nine Lives: A Year in the Life of a Cat Family, photographs by Burton and Kim Taylor, Ebury Press (London, England), 1985.

The Woodland Trust Book of British Woodlands, David & Charles (North Pomfret, VT), 1986.

Ecology Facts, Hamlyn (New York, NY), 1986, 2nd revised edition published as Green Facts, 1986.

(With Jane Burton) A Dog's Life, photographs by Burton and Kim Taylor, Howell Book (New York, NY), 1986.

(With Jane Burton) A Pony's Tale: A Year in the Life of a Foal, photographs by Burton and Kim Taylor, Half Halt Press (Gaithersburg, MD), 1987.

A Guide to Gaia, Macdonald-Optima (London, England), 1989, published as A Guide to Gaia: A Survey of the News Science of Our Living Earth, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990.

Into Harmony with the Planet: The Delicate Balance between Industry and the Environment, Bloomsbury Publishing (London, England), 1990.

(With Neil Curtis) Planet Earth, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1993.

How the Weather Works, Reader's Digest (Pleasantville, NY), 1995.

Facing the Future, Bloomsbury Publishing (London, England), 1995.

Basics of Environmental Science, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996, 2nd edition, 2000.

DK Guide to the Weather, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2000.

The Environment, illustrated by Mike Saunders and others, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2000.

Tornadoes and Other Dramatic Weather Systems, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Robert Anderson and Ian Crofton) Deserts and Semi-deserts, Raintree Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

The Facts on File Weather and Climate Handbook, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2002.

Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, two volumes, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2002.

The World's Weather, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2002.

(With Derek Gjertsen) Makers of Science, five volumes, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

India ("Countries of the World" series), Chelsea House (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of The Changing Uplands, Countryside Commission, 1983; The Food Chain, Andre Deutsch, 1984; The Ordnance Survey Outdoor Handbook, Macmillan/Ordnance Survey, 1987; Conservation at Home: A Practical Handbook, Unwin-Hyman, 1988; and Living in the Greenhouse, Thorsons, 1990. Contributor to books, including The Environmental Handbook, edited by John Barr, Ballantine, 1971; Can Britain Survive?, edited by Edward Goldsmith, Stacey, 1971; Teach-in for Survival: A Record of the Teach-in on a Blueprint for Survival, edited by Michael Schwab, Robinson & Watkins, 1972; Ecology, edited by Jonathan Benthall, Longmans, Green, 1973; Nightwatch, edited by Linda Gamlin, M. Joseph, 1983; and Ecology 2000: The Changing Face of the Earth, edited by Edmund Hillary, Beaufort Books, 1984. Also contributor to Encyclopaedia Britannica, to CD-ROMs Encarta '98 and Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Science, and to magazines, journals, and newspapers, including New Scientist.

Allaby's works have been translated into foreign languages, including Chinese, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish.

"ELEMENTS" SERIES

Air: The Nature of Atmosphere and the Climate, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1992.

Water: Its Global Nature, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1992.

Earth: Our Planet and Its Resources, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1993.

Fire: The Vital Source of Energy, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1993.

"DANGEROUS WEATHER" SERIES

Hurricanes, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, 2003.

Tornadoes, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, illustrated by Richard Garratt, 2004.

Blizzards, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, 2004.

Droughts, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1998, 2nd edition, 2003.

Floods, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1998, 2nd edition, illustrated by Richard Garratt, 2003.

A Chronology of Weather, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1998, 2nd edition, illustrated by Richard Garratt, 2004.

Fog, Smoke, and Poisoned Rain, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2003.

A Change in the Weather, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2004.

"BIOMES OF THE EARTH" SERIES

Polar Regions, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Deserts, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Oceans, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Wetlands, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Mountains, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Temperate Forests, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Tropical Forests, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

Grasslands, illustrated by Richard Garratt, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 1999.

"PLANTS AND PLANT LIFE" SERIES

Plant Ecology, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Plants Used by People, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Conifers, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Flowering Plants: The Monocotyledons, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 2001.

Flowering Plants: The Dicotyledons, Grolier Educational (Danbury, CT), 2001.

"ECOSYSTEM" SERIES

Temperate Forests, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1999.

Deserts, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2001.

EDITOR

A Dictionary of the Environment, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1977, 4th edition published as Macmillan Dictionary of the Environment, Macmillan (London, England), 1994.

The Oxford Dictionary of Natural History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1985.

(With wife, Ailsa Allaby) The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Earth Sciences, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1990, 3rd edition, 2003.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991, 3rd edition, 2003.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992, 2nd edition published as Oxford Dictionary of Plant Sciences, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994, 3rd edition, 2004.

Editor of Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing, Barrie & Jenkins, 1989. Advisory editor of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1995. Editorial consultant to Dorling Kindersley and Monkey Puzzle Media.

Work in Progress

A third edition of the Dictionary of Plant Sciences, for Oxford University Press; revising Deserts and Temperate Forests for a second edition of the "Ecosystems" series; revising the Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate; a brochure for the World Meteorological Organization titled "Preventing and Mitigating Natural Disasters"; seven volumes in the "Discovering the Earth" series.

Sidelights

British writer Michael Allaby specializes in nonfiction, and has produced numerous books that focus primarily on scientific topics such as ecology and weather. In ad-dition to contributing to multi-volume series such as "Plants and Plant Life" and "Ecosystems," he has produced many stand-alone works and has written and edited encyclopedias and dictionaries for prominent publishers such as Facts on File, Macmillan, and Oxford University Press. As the author/editor wrote on his home page, "In my books you'll find simply written explanations of what really goes on in the world around us. Over the years I've written about ecology, animal behaviour, farming, and the countryside…. Many of my books are for young readers, but I like to think I'm talking to anyone who'll listen."

Born in Belper, Derbyshire, England, in 1933, Allaby first trained as a police cadet, then worked in a morgue, acted in children's repertory theater, piloted planes for the Royal Air Force, and worked on the staff of an environmentalist magazine in England. Becoming a freelance writer in 1973, he first ranged widely in focus, producing titles that included Your Child and the Computer, The Ordnance Survey Outdoor Handbook, The Woodland Trust Book of British Woodlands, and Into Harmony with the Planets.

A major focus of Allaby's works has been weather and climate. He has written encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks on weather and climate, and has penned an entire book series on dangerous weather conditions. As Allaby once explained, his interest in climate and the weather was inspired by a "shift away from scientific, indeed rational, thought in popular culture" that he maintains is the result of "the exaggerated propaganda of the populist environmental movement and by wide, but uninformed concern over ethical issues raised by potential scientific or technological developments." "I believe these views must be challenged in the strongest possible terms," he added, "lest their gloomy forebodings become self-fulfilling prophecies."

Allaby's "Dangerous Weather" series includes volumes on severe weather conditions such as droughts, blizzards, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even fog. Booklist reviewer Mary Romano Marks observed that the examples in Droughts "vividly bring to life the reality of extreme forms of weather." Shauna Yusko, writing in School Library Journal, commented that while the chapters in Fog, Smog, and Poisoned Rain are "somewhat dense," the "well-written" book will "provide enough material for students researching meteorology, climatology, and the environment." In the DK Guide to the Weather, he presents information on each type of weather phenomenon on a two-page spread featuring color photographs. Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan called the photographs "clear, colorful, and dramatic" and noted that "students researching specific topics will find themselves browsing widely through this impressive volume."

In his two-volume Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Allaby provides a comprehensive overview of weather-related terms and offers biographical information on those men and women who have contributed to the study of weather. Included in the book are a bibliography; references to helpful books, Web sites, and other resources; and five appendices with titles such as "Chronology of Disasters," "Chronology of Discoveries," and "Tornadoes of the Past." In School Library Journal Dana McDougald labeled the Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate "a much-needed resource that does not disappoint." Similarly, as Mary Ellen Quinn wrote in Booklist, Allaby's work "stands out" due to its "easy-to-understand, well-put-together text." The Facts on File Weather and Climate Handbook also received good reviews from critics, Robin N. Sinn, writing in the Reference and User Services Quarterly, calling Allaby's "a nice reference work covering the basic terms in climate and weather."

Moving to broader environmental issues, in Basics of Environmental Science, according to Jonathan Horner in the Geographical Journal, "Allaby considers a very wide range of topical environmental concerns including global warming, eutrophication, soil erosion, overfishing, and pollution." Horner praised the author, writing that "Allaby is to be commended for producing a very readable up-to-date introduction to the major disciplines comprising environmental science." In The Environment Allaby writes about nutrient cycles, biomes, the ozone layer, and other topics. Kathleen Isaacs commented in School Library Journal that the book "presents a broad, browsable introduction … [to] the make-up and natural systems of our planet." Among Allaby's other science writings are the eight "Biomes of the World" books, which describe polar regions, oceans, wetlands, and other ecosystems throughout the world; his five contributions to the "Plants and Plant Life" series; the "Elements" series, which explains earth, fire, water, and air; and the "Ecosystem" series, which includes the volumes Deserts and Temperate Forests, the former which discusses the geography, geology, biology, history, economics, health, and management of deserts. Claudia Moore, writing in School Library Journal, called Deserts "a wonderful, reader-friendly work" and praised its "outstanding color photographs and clear diagrams."

A collaboration with Derek Gjertsen, the five-volume Makers of Science reference work takes "a slightly different approach to ordinary biographical information on scientists," according to a Booklist contributor. The series "incorporates the political and social setting as well as the scientific achievements" of forty-one important scientists, from Aristotle to Stephen Hawking, while also including information regarding 300 other important men and women. "Scientific principles are clearly explained," added the Booklist reviewer, noting that "intriguing personal stories are woven in" to Allaby's text. School Library Journal contributor John Peters wrote that, "For scope, ease of use, and clarity of presentation, this set … is likely to become the first choice of middle graders on research missions," while the Booklist critic concluded: "Science teachers will love the connections made between different inventors' works and how science is relevant to our life today."

Allaby told SATA: "I've been writing ever since they taught me to read and write as a small boy. Starting with straightforward plagiarism from stories I'd read and movies I'd seen, I advanced (?) to short stories, poems, plays—the usual stuff.

"My dream was to be either an actor or a writer—ideally, both, declaiming my own lines to an audience of millions. So they sent me to work in an office (hated it), then as a police cadet (great fun). At age eighteen I joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot because they told me that when I left they'd pay me a gratuity I could use to go to drama college—and that's what happened.

"While was an out-of-work actor I had a temporary job for an organisation where I was encouraged to write short articles. Then one thing led to another and eventually I was commissioned to write my first book.

"I've written on many subjects, but especially on weather and climate; an interest in that began in my flying days.

"Now I'm getting on a bit, but still at it, working full time. I live in the West Highlands of Scotland, where EVERYONE is interested in the weather!"

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

American Reference Books Annual, 1996, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 777, and Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 639; 1999, review of Blizzards, A Chronology of Weather, Droughts, Floods, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes, pp. 634-235.

American Scientist, November, 1995, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 563.

Appraisal, Volume 29, 1996, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 6.

Booklist, January 15, 1995, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 950, review of A Dictionary of the Environment, p. 950; October 1, 1995, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 350; December 1, 1997, Mary Romano Marks, review of Droughts, p. 621; December 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of DK Guide to Weather, p. 729; May 1,2002, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, p. 1542; June 1, 2002, review of Makers of Science, p. 1776.

Book Report, January-February, 1998, James Gross, review of Blizzards, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes, p. 53; September, 1998, review of Floods, p. 72; September-October, 1999, Sandra J. Morton, review of Temperate Forests, p. 70; November, 1999, review of Biomes of the World, p. 85; March, 2002, review of Makers of Science, p. 57.

Books for Keeps, May, 2001, review of DK Guide to Weather, p. 25.

Children's Bookwatch, March, 1998, review of Droughts, p. 2.

Choice, January, 1995, N. Chipman-Shlaes, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 744; June, 2002, J.C. Stachacz, review of Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, p. 1740.

Christian Science Monitor, August 31, 1983.

Geographical Journal, November, 1997, Jonathan Horner, review of Basics of Environmental Science, pp. 310-311.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1997, review of Tornadoes, p. 1384; November 1, 1997, review of Droughts, p. 1640.

Library Journal, October 15, 1995, Laura Lipton, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 54; November 1, 2002, Nancy R. Curtis, review of Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, p. 76.

Nature, June 2, 1994, John Lawton, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 368; February 1, 1996, review of Facing the Future, p. 412; February 29, 1996, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 784.

New Scientist, April 8, 1995, review of How the Weather Works, p. 41; June 10, 1995, review of Facing the Future, p. 43; October 11, 1997, review of Basics of Environmental Science, p. 48.

New Technical Books, May, 1994, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 575.

New York Times Book Review, January 6, 1985.

Personal Computer World, May, 1996, Jessica Hodgson, review of Facing the Future, p. 228.

Population Studies, November, 1995, Richard Sandbrook, review of Macmillan Dictionary of the Environment, 4th edition, p. 537.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 2000, "A Wonderful World," review of DK Guide to Weather, p. 85.

Reference and Research Book News, March, 1994, review of Fire: The Vital Source of Energy, p. 52; December, 1994, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 41; September, 1995, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 57.

Reference and User Services Quarterly, spring, 2003, Robin N. Sinn, review of The Facts on File Weather and Climate Handbook, p. 265.

Reference Reviews, May, 2001, review of Deserts; March, 2002, review of Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate.

School Librarian, winter, 1999, review of Temperate Forests, p. 219.

School Library Journal, February, 1994, John Peters, review of Planet Earth, p. 108; September, 1995, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 237; April, 1998, Jeffrey A. French, review of Hurricanes, p. 140, review of Tornadoes, p. 140; November, 1999, review of Biomes of the World, p. 75; March, 2001, Kathleen Isaacs, review of The Environment, p. 259; August, 2001, Claudia Moore, review of Deserts, p. 211; May, 2002, Dana McDougald, review of Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, p. 91; February, 2002, John Peters, review of Makers of Science, p. 84; May, 2003, John Peters, review of Makers of Science, p. 101; October, 2003, review of Makers of Science, p. 46, Shauna Yusko, review of Fog, Smog, and Poisoned Rain, p. 103.

Science Books and Films, October, 1995, review of Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 206; November, 1999, review of Biomes of the World, p. 274.

SciTech Book News, December, 1994, review of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology, p. 17; July, 1995, review of The Illustrated Dictionary of Science, p. 4; June, 1999, review of Temperate Forests, p. 70; March, 2001, review of Deserts, p. 61; September, 2001, review of Basics of Environmental Science, 2nd edition, p. 10.

Times (London, England), January 23, 1986.

Times Educational Supplement, July 7, 1995, Dennis Ashton, review of How the Weather Works, p. R4.

Times Literary Supplement, July 29, 1986.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1995, review of How the Weather Works, p. 319; June, 2001, review of Deserts, p. 149.

ONLINE

Michael Allaby Home Page, http://www.michaelallaby.com (June 30, 2004).

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over 3 years ago

Hello cousin Michael



Have been recently acquiring computer skills at the local Silver Surfers Club and decided to google you. Congratulations on your website! Hope you are well. My daughter Sue has typed this for me, so if you should be able to reply don't expect an immediate reply as I still need someone next to me to use the thing successfully.

Hope to hear from you some time.

Love Jackie