Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather was published by Walker in New York and McClelland and Stewart in Toronto in January 2006. This book has a rather curious provenance. I have something of a phobia about wind, dating back to an event when I was just a child, and was nearly blown into the ocean by a howling southern Atlantic gale. “For years afterwards,” as I wrote in the book’s introduction, “I was watchful, wary even of the gentlest seaside breezes. And now, perversely, I live on the Atlantic coast, in the teeth of the North Atlantic gales and in the ominous eye of the hurricane path. And of course, I’m still wary.” So maybe this book was necessary as … catharsis?
The use of a fierce storm called Hurricane Ivan (still the only Atlantic hurricane to have reached Category 5, the highest on the scale, not once, but three times along its 3,000 mile journey) as the focusing lens made possible the telling of a tale with numerous digressions and asides.
The New York Times seemed to agree. There was an approving short mention in the daily paper, then another on Sunday, by William Grimes: “Wind is simple. It is nothing more than air moving between zones of high pressure and low pressure, traveling in a straight line until deflected by the rotation of the earth. Unfortunately things get very complicated after that, as Marq de Villiers explains in Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather, his lively, engaging treatise on wind and the weather it makes. Windswept serves up a little history, a fair amount of science and many colorful stories. Mr. de Villiers, the co-author of Sahara and Sable Island, blends these elements with a skillful hand … ”
Other notices include that in Canadian Geographic (“De Villiers knows not only his science but is a first rate story teller”) and in CHOICE of the American Library Association: “Windswept is informative nonfiction about wind and weather. One reason for this book’s excellence is De Villiers’s careful attention to weather happenings, reinforced by his penetrating insights into nature.”