One of the most innovative scientists of the twentieth century was volcanologist Frank Alvord Perret. A virtuoso inventor who traveled the world for over thirty years, he clambered over active volcanoes, predicted their futures, and reassured panicked residents who peopled their slopes. He thrust himself into the hell of eruptions to record phenomena that had escaped notice for centuries. He carried scars on his arms, hands, legs, and lungs. Lava had burned him; rocks had bruised him; hellish fumes had seared his lungs. But luck had saved his life.
Alone and restless, a dreamer and romantic, Perret spent uncounted hours at crater rims and in the heat of shimmering lava, with his walking stick, notebook and camera, his shoulder bag of instruments, his collecting sack. For Perret, it all began at Vesuvius, one of the most infamous volcanoes in the world.