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Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IF, LIKE me, you find volcanoes fascinating, then Bourseiller and Durieux' magnificent tome, entitled simply Volcanoes, is most definitely a book for you.

If, on the other hand, you barely give the subject a second thought, think again, for Volcanoes is packed with thought-provoking information.

For example, did you know that there are 15,000 active volcanoes around the world, or that 500 million people are at risk from volcanic activity?

Volcanoes does, in fact, document the awesome power and devastating aftermath of volcanic eruptions - from Vesuvius, in southern Italy, believed by many to be the world's most dangerous volcano, given that 800,000 people live within its shadow, to the recently-awakened Guagua Pichincha, in Ecuador.

But, more than that, it explores the myths and beliefs associated with volcanoes; gives detailed accounts of more notable eruptions - the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, to name but one; assesses volcanic risk to human population and imparts a wealth of scientific knowledge that even I can understand!

In other words, Volcanoes chronicles everything there is to know about volcanoes and man's relationship with them.

Supporting volcanologist, Jacques Durieux' text are award-winning photographer, Philippe Bourseiller's stunning photographs - more than 170 of them, in full colour, double-page spreads.

Observe, for instance, the formation of a cone during an eruption of Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion; stand with schoolchildren on an excavation exercise near Sakurajima Volcano, Japan, and join pilgrims gathering at sunset on the peaks of Bromo Volcano, Indonesia.

Volcanoes will delight and educate in equal measure. It will fuel an existing fascination, or awaken what was merely dormant.

What it won't do, is allow you to curl up with it in a favourite armchair. It's much too large and heavy for that. Don't, however, let that deter you, for Volcanoes is just waiting to erupt.

Published by Abrams, Volcanoes retails at £34 (or £23.80 through

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