From the acclaimed author of Life and Trilobite!, a fascinating
geological exploration of the earth's distant history as revealed by its natural
The face of the earth, crisscrossed by chains of mountains like the scars of old
wounds, has changed and changed again over billions of years, and the testament
of the remote past is all around us. In this book Richard Fortey teaches us how
to read its character, laying out the dominions of the world before us. He shows
how human culture and natural historyeven the shape of citiesare rooted in
this deep geological past.
In search of this past, Fortey takes us through the Alps, into Icelandic hot
springs, down to the ocean floor, over the barren rocks of Newfoundland, into
the lush ecosystems of Hawai'i, across the salt flats of Oman, and along the San
Andreas Fault. On the slopes of Vesuvius, he tracks the history of the region
down through the centuries to volcanic eruptions seen by fifteenth-century
Italians, the Romans, and, from striking geological evidence, even Neolithic
man. As story adds to story, the recent past connects with forgotten ages long
ago, then much longer ago, as he describes the movement of plates and the
development of ancient continents and seas. Nothing in this book is at rest. The
surface of the earth dilates and collapses; seas and mountains rise and fall;
Fortey again proves himself the ideal guide, with his superb descriptions of
natural beauty, his gripping narratives, and his crystal-clear, always
fascinating scientific explanations.
Here is a book to change the way we see the world.
"It should be difficult to lose a mountain, but it happens all the time around the Bay of Naples." Thus Fortey begins Earth: An Intimate History, described by reviewers as 'a tale of high drama', 'a treasure-house of mind-expanding lore', 'enthralling', 'a dazzling voyage of discovery' - and that's just a small taste of the glowing praise for Fortey, whom the Economist describes as 'the Raymond Chandler of science writing' and then goes on to say, 'his prose is angelic, his phrases well-turned. . . . And though Earth is no murder story, it is a mystery book and, in its own way, a thriller.' (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Riveting. . . . Wonderfully engaging . . . tackles the biggest rock of all and how its geology has affected the lives of those who inhabit it. . . . In Fortey's hands, geology is a tale of high drama and action.
His stops as he takes the reader on a journey around the world include Mount Vesuvius, the Alps, Newfoundland, Los Angeles and the Deccan Traps in India. He is an eloquent guide.
The New York Times - Simon Lamb
Fortey has written the ultimate travel book, a guidebook that should be read by every person who wants to really know and understand the place we live on.
Fortey's writing is wonderfully descriptive, but once in a while one wishes he'd kept to his main path and not wandered off into tangential topics. Geology and earth sciences buffs will eat this up.
Fortey shows the evidence, summarizes the arguments, and does everything he can to put a human face on a science that builds whole worlds over a span of billions of years. A virtuoso performance.
Booklist - Gilbert Taylor
This is a marvelously inviting presentation, cut from the same literary cloth as the popular geology epics of John McPhee.
Library Journal - Amy Brunvand
A brilliant tour guide, Fortey offers a lively mix of science, human history, and personal experience that makes imperceptibly slow geologic change equally as compelling as volcanic catastrophe.
The Sunday Times
A dazzling voyage of discovery showing how our ancient, battered planet endlessly recycles itself.
Fortey illuminates the world we know, and enriches our understanding of its past and future. Enjoy this remarkable book.
Richard Fortey is the Raymond Chandler of science writing. His prose is
angelic, his phrases well-turned. . . . And though Earth is no murder
story, it is a mystery book and, in its own way, a thriller.
Richard Fortey is a senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in
London. Life was short-listed for the Rhône-Poulenc Prize in 1998,
Trilobite! was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001, and The
Hidden Landscape was awarded the Natural World Book of the Year in 1993. He
was Collier Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology at
the Institute of Advanced Studies in 2002 and is now a Fellow of the Royal
A brilliant examination of the most challenging environmental and political crisis this civilization has ever faced, Gelbspan shows not only the seriousness of climate disruption, but also how it could be deflected at huge savings to the public.
With erudite prose and carefully chosen illustrations, this unique work of metatourism explores what cities are and how they work. It covers history, customs and language, districts, transport, money, work, shops and markets, and tourist sites, creating a fantastically detailed portrait of the city through history and into the future.
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