The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield

120p. filmog. further reading. index. notes. reprods. websites. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781590789902. LC 2015931581.
RedReviewStarGr 8 Up—In the early 1900s, California sewing machine salesman Charles Mallory Hatfield claimed he had developed a "scientific" method for producing rain. Dramatic newspaper accounts publicized his successes. Brimner now tells the enigmatic Hatfield's story, placing it into the context of an era defined both by widespread belief that science would conquer all problems, even the weather, and flimflam men who exploited a credulous public for fame and fortune. He discusses Hatfield's lifelong obsession with rain and efforts to control it and his contentious relationships with weather service scientists. In 1915, the city of San Diego hired Hatfield to produce enough rain to fill its reservoirs. As he began blowing his chemicals into the atmosphere in early 1916, the entire region was hit with record rainfall that destroyed dams, flooded the city, and caused considerable loss of life. Hatfield spent years battling with San Diego officials about his payment. He never divulged his methods, and when 20th-century flood and water projects provided stable water supplies, he eventually faded into obscurity. Brimner allows readers to decide if Hatfield was a miracle worker or a fraud. This well-written and attractive book, with its many double-page period photos includes much detail and explores a figure who might otherwise be a regional footnote to 20th-century history.
VERDICT A well-designed, impeccably researched work.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO
, Jun 01, 2015

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