An absolutely fascinating book and one that is perfectly suited to audio version. I'm not particularly interested in geology but the story of William Smith, as told by Simon Winchester, is full of as much drama and intrique, humor and pathos as a novel! In addition, there are wonderful details about English society, and science, in the late 1700s.
The author also manages the rare task of doing an excellent job of reading his own book!
This is the unabridged cassette version, 6 tapes, 9.5 hours running time.
Audio book read by the author. Life and times of the unsung hero of geology, William Smith. As with all Simon Winchester books, extremely detailed research went into this story but the facts don't ever outweigh the fascination. You don't need to be a geologist to appreciate this incredible piece of forgotten history.
Even though Winchester, a geologist by training, occasionally lapses into fairly technical "geology-speak", his enthusiastic telling of William Smith's story is entertaining and informative. Overall, the book is less about rocks and strata and more about the lives and motivations of people. Smith is somewhat a tragic figure, beset by financial woes and ungentlemanly associates, who nevertheless managed to persevere in his work and establish geology as a legitimate science.
William Smith had a fabulous combination of background, interest, and opportunity. This is a fascinating story of how he developed the concepts of geology as science. The paperback version has good maps. The hardback has beautiful maps.
I read this because I liked _The Professor and the Madman_. Now I read anything by Simon Winchester.
This book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in biology or geology, because it lays out the historical foundation upon which later scientific discoveries (such as Darwin's theory of evolution) are based. The story is interesting on its own merits, so it will also appeal to those without a science background, and you don't need to be a science geek to appreciate the story. This is a revealing look at the theological battle between the creationist dogma and scientific theories of the early 19th century, as well as the British social and class structures of the time.
Winchester does his best when he is explaining the Zeitgeist of the times. It got boring when he started getting into the issues of who would garner fame for the advancement of knowledge.
A fascinating book on the beginning of the science of geology.
William Smith in England early 1800's figured out the how fossils in rocks told how the crust of the earth varied. By the author of Krakatoa.
A interesting look at the beginnings of geology.