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Publisher's Summary

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.

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This is not an audible exclusive

This “exclusive” is just an excerpt from the authors other book The Fifth Risk I don’t understand why that isn’t made clear in the summary

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  • sam
  • 10-03-2020

This is the fifth risk

So I’m not really sure what went on here but this book is the Fifth Risk. Not really sure how it’s an Amazon “original”.

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  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 10-09-2018

Why you shouldn't ignore the weather forecast

The age of Big Data is upon us, and mostly what we hear are the troubling and potentially terrifying consequences of business and government having easy access to all of our data. That's a real problem that we have to devote time and attention to dealing with. Yet Big Data can do many other things, many of them very beneficial. The misnamed Department of Commerce collects enormous amounts of data about, among other things, the weather. Before the growth of the internet into its modern form, that data mostly sat on paper, and later on tape, and eventually some of it on servers, in the bowels of NOAA--the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, inside the Commerce Dept. Then a grad student with the foresight to see how useful vast stores of data could be went looking for weather data to test out a theory for his research, and stumbled upon a hole in the Commerce Dept. systems that let him download that data and work with it. He didn't even know that it was the Commerce Dept. he'd gotten into. He had no idea NOAA was part of Commerce. This book is a discussion of how much weather forecasting has improved because of NOAA's research and data collection, and what they and other clever people have been able to do with it. It's about why people still discount National Weather Service warnings that could save their lives. And it's about the private corporations that are trying to lock up that data so that, after you the taxpayer have paid for that research and data collection, you would then be required to pay again, to for-profit companies, for any use of that weather, including getting weather forecasts. You may think you get your weather news from your local tv station or Accuweather or the Weather Channel, or your favorite weather app (I have several, for different purposes), but all that data comes from the National Weather Service, which is to say NOAA. I happen to like how the Weather Channel repackages that information, but you and I and everyone with internet access can get the same information directly from NOAA's websites. Also, Accuweather is lying to you when they say they're more accurate than NOAA. They're cherry-picking particular dates and locations when their meteorologists did a better job of interpreting NOAA's data than the National Weather Service did. That will happen sometimes; someone who knows nothing about horse racing will sometimes bet on the right horse when the expert picks the wrong one. It happens. With weather forecasting, it doesn't happen often. And that data? Accuweather wouldn't have it if your tax dollars hadn't paid for NOAA to gather it. Michael Lewis gives us a clear, lucid discussion of what's going on and what it all potentially means. And also why you should not roll your eyes at the weather forecast, no matter whether you get it from the National Weather Service, or from one of the for-profit companies repackaging it for you. Highly recommended. I received this audiobook at no cost from Audible as part of their Audible Originals program, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

57 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-08-2018

More like a Podcast

This felt less like a narrated story and more like a podcast, but I still very much enjoyed it. Those that listen to NPR and podcasts would enjoy this.

69 people found this helpful

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  • Alex
  • 06-08-2018

Skeptical

The author obviously put a lot of research into this book and was able to convey the seriousness and destructive power of tornados and thus the importance of having accurate weather forecasts. He also offered a fair deal of insight into where weather data comes from and eluded to many political as well as human issues inhibiting the progress of weather forecasting to minimize catastrophes. What made me skeptical, however, was the rather obvious black and white painting of politicians and scientists — there were very obvious heroes and just as obvious antagonists. While not entirely uninteresting, I found the tangents describing the backgrounds and (exceptional) commitment of various scientist/key contributors too long and many details at least borderline irrelevant. In contrast and yet similarly, the politicians were presented as clearly inappropriate/incompetent for the roles they were appointed to, and solely focused on their own profit without eluding to any saving grace — are these individuals truly as selfish and one-sided as presented? In my opinion, the details given in this context seemed insufficiently convincing and strongly biased by the author’s personal opinion — again, making me wonder, to some extent, about their relevance. The narration was just fine, properly read but not particularly remarkable (albeit, I particularly enjoyed the occasional moments during which the author appeared to suppress a giggle or onset of euphoria). In summary, it was a decent listen revealing some interesting insights and highlighting a tax-payed service that is probably widely underestimated.

50 people found this helpful

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  • GE Guest
  • 07-08-2018

Badly Mixed Message

Mr. Lewis is a good storyteller. I very much enjoyed The Undoing Project but this one is not of the same quality. Perhaps that's why it's free. It seems to be an underhanded way of equating middle America's short-sighted attitude about tornados with their attitude about current politics. Is this about climate change? Not exactly. Is it a metaphor about Trump? Hard to tell. Is it interesting? Yes, but as Max Tegmark says in Our Mathematical Universe, "I find that when it comes to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, it's the second part that accounts for most of the differences in how they portray reality: what they omit." I had friends whose house was wiped out in Joplin and I went the next day to help clean up. A good part of everyone's days was spent wandering around in slack-jawed disbelief. It was simply beyond words, but Lewis makes a good attempt. He also does eventually assess the problem correctly - it's not that there isn't enough warning, it's that no one can imagine the monster will come for them. Far too many people in tornado alley have not even the most rudimentary form of storm shelter. That story could have been what this book was about. But it's not. It's not even about any specific "storm" at all. It's not a clear case for anything in the future. It IS a place where lots of shots are lobbed at the Trump administration. That would be alright if the story was told in a complete fashion, but it's not. He seems to disapprove of government collected data of all sorts recently being removed from public access, but he also seems to disapprove of the private sector actually DOING anything with that data. He conflates the collection of data with data analysis, as if because the Department of Commerce has the data it is also the ultimate expert on what that data means or how it can best be used. And nowhere does he even give a hint that any of that data might be inaccurate. For instance, crime data is reported to the FBI by local police. No one seems to be aware that because of personnel shortages on municipal departments, often only one-tenth of crime reports can be processed. Federal crime statistics are way off. And he wonders why they are no longer available? Are people the solution or the problem? Is government the solution or the problem? He can't lay any solid argument, but he sure can complain and blame Trump for the sky that soon will fall. It's not a bad listen for free but there is a deep undercurrent of intellectual dishonesty that ultimately makes it a disappointment.

192 people found this helpful

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  • Kingsley
  • 01-08-2018

Talking about the weather was never so interesting

'The Coming Storm' tells a brief history of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the prediction of weather - how it has improved over time, and how we can get people to actually pay attention to the extreme weather warnings. It is rather political in it's content - discussing changes in NOAA (and Dept of Commerce) since the Trump Administration has begun. It also discussed laws and attempted laws that were trying to dismantle or cripple NOAA, in favour of private companies like AccuWeather (of which one of the founders is appointed to Dept of Commerce by Trump), despite the fact that AccuWeather gets it's data from NOAA and then just processes it differently. It goes into details on how people react to storm warnings - often ignoring them due to a 'it wont happen to me' attitude, or thinking 'home' means safe. And it looks at how NOAA is changing how it present information based on social science. Michael Lewis narrates his own work, and it is fine narration. Nothing outstanding, but clear and well produced. I would be more than happy to listen to him narrate more of his own books. Overall a very interesting piece of work that is likely to get a lot of strong opinions from the two sides of politics - something that can already be seen in the handful of reviews on Audible already.

88 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 18-10-2018

There is a reason this one was free

Actually there is very little in this short book that is actually about weather patterns. I enjoyed Money Ball, but the content of this one is weak and overall I found it to be very lame. Complete waste of time. Would not recommend it.

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  • Lynn Christensen
  • 10-09-2018

Made me consider my reaction to weather warnings

Very Informative and relevant piece. It's surprising how new accurate weather prediction is. Great listen.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Reading Addict
  • 03-05-2019

I Thought I Knew Weather, but I Didn't!

I have had Coming Storm in my Library for awhile now and had the opportunity to listen to it in one session. I had what I thought was a reasonable amount of knowledge about weather. What I didn't know was how weather data was collected through the years and the odd way the U.S. Government collects a massive amount of information (a goldmine worth of data) but doesn't publicize it. Even more interesting was some of the valuable contributions that data mining has provided to the public (such as farmers knowing exactly when to fertilize their crops to save a ton of money on fertilizer). I learned a lot! Yes, I am somewhat of a science geek, but I think most people would enjoy this book.

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  • Darwin8u
  • 29-11-2018

A Large Piece of 'The Fifth Risk'

This is good, but if you are a Michael Lewis fan just know it is already a part of 'The Fifth Risk'. I started listening and was like, "wait, I've read and reviewed this before.' If you have an extra credit, or the money, and you are a Lewis fan, just go buy the other book. Otherwise enjoy a cheap or free version here.

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  • Ann M. Bottorff
  • 11-09-2018

It OK

I thought that this was a pretty good book, but not great and not really complete. I wish it could have been fleshed out a bit because I think for the complexity of the subject that 2.5 hrs isn't enough time to even get to the root of 'Privatizing weather is bad because....' problem. Although I find the current administration to be horrible, blaming the GOP leaders for All Evil is not really helpful. The other thing that was a bit strange is that the first 1/3 (maybe?) of the book was a biography of Kathy Sullivan. I found her so interesting I wish the rest of the book would have been about The Women of NASA (or something like this) I even listened to this part of the book twice, however, this really had little to do with the rest of the book. I think it needed to pick a subject and go with it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 01-08-2018

Tornadoes, Big Data and Trump bashing!

Martin Lewis is a voice I've thought worth listening to ever since the highly revealing Flash Boys passed between my ears. This one is short but packs in a very decent amount of information and of course opinion. Lewis covers the devastating impact that tornadoes in particular can have and touches on the psychology of why people ignore warnings and weather forecasts despite their dramatic improvements in usefulness over recent years. Set against the awesome power of nature of course are the weathermen and he concentrates on two scientists in particular. The role that big data plays in the science of weather prediction becomes very clear but so does the damage that can be done by its misuse. Over-hyped forecasts that erode public trust in meteorologists, the commercial use of data whereby only paying customers get storm warnings and of course the Trump administration all come in for a Lewis-fuelled bashing. I think it's well worth listening to. There is a level of political bias here (though most felt well deserved!) but the issues are important. How the data is used, the importance of public ownership of it and how government policy could send us backwards are all well worth exploring.

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  • Charlie Sammonds
  • 03-06-2019

Extracted from the Fifth Risk

Stay away if you already have the Fifth Risk, or else you will be ripped off. This is just chapters taken from the Fifth Risk.

1 person found this helpful

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  • dsarin
  • 14-08-2018

Excellent book

This is a must-read book. The fact that it is Audible only is a crime. Forecasting, corruption, tornadoes, astronauts.Yes, it is that cool.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Judy Corstjens
  • 20-10-2018

It's about the weather

I ordered this book on the basis that if Michael Lewis writes something, then I'll read it. I thought it was going to be about global warming, but actually it is about typhoons - i.e. whirl-winds. It was quite interesting, and written with verve and colour, but it was a bit of a surprise as it didn't really seem to lead anywhere.

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  • CJ
  • 02-10-2018

Another great offering by Michael Lewis

This is a great listen overall. The only negative is that the conclusion is not quite as strong as the rest of the book.

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  • Mike Harris
  • 04-09-2018

excellent short recent history and well read

always been a fan of Michael Lewis's work and this short only adds to that

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  • Lae
  • 10-10-2018

Not my cup of tea at this moment.

Boring. My fault. Had no idea what the book was about when I got it.

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