Summary and book reviews of Earth by Richard Fortey

Earth

An Intimate History

by Richard Fortey

Earth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2004, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2005, 448 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A fascinating geological exploration of the earth's distant history as revealed by its natural wonders.

From the acclaimed author of Life and Trilobite!, a fascinating geological exploration of the earth's distant history as revealed by its natural wonders.

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 history–even the shape of cities–are 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; continents move.

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.

Chapter 1
Up and Down

It should be difficult to lose a mountain, but it happens all the time around the Bay of Naples. Mount Vesuvius slips in and out of view, sometimes looming, at other times barely visible above the lemon groves. In parts of Naples, all you see are lines of washing draped from the balconies of peeling tenements or hastily constructed apartment blocks: the mountain has apparently vanished. You can understand how it might be possible to live life in that city only half aware of the volcano on whose slopes your home is constructed, and whose whim might control your continued existence.

As you drive eastwards from the centre of the city, the packed streets give way to a chaotic patchwork of anonymous buildings, small factories, and ugly housing on three or four floors. The road traffic is relentless. Yet ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

"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).

Full Review Members Only (210 words).

Media Reviews

Chicago Tribune

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.

Scientific American

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.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Financial Times

Fortey illuminates the world we know, and enriches our understanding of its past and future. Enjoy this remarkable book.

The Economist

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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

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 Society.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Earth, try these:

  • Light jacket

    Light

    by Bruce Watson

    Published 2016

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Although lasers now perform everyday miracles, light retains its eternal allure. "For the rest of my life," Einstein said, "I will reflect on what light is." Light explores and celebrates such curiosity.

  • A Garden of Marvels jacket

    A Garden of Marvels

    by Ruth Kassinger

    Published 2015

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    In the tradition of The Botany of Desire and Wicked Plants, a witty and engaging history of the first botanists interwoven with stories of today's extraordinary plants found in the garden and the lab.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.