Earth: An Intimate History
Beginning with Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in Roman times helped spark the science of geology, and ending in a lab in the West of England where mathematical models and lab experiments r...more
This is a publication from The Folio Society, a reprint of the original 2004 edition. The author’s sole purpose was to travel the world picking examples of various geological formations that illustrated the effects of tectonic plate theory. I’m not sure who the author’s audience was intended to be, but it would have had to be a science-educated reader who had some prior knowedge of geology. Most of the material...more
That does sound horribly contradictory, and yet it is true. Reading this book, I found myself drawn in by the power of Fortey's words and this obvious enthusiasm for the subject. He's a paleontologist by trade, but his era of expertise goes so far back that it's practically geology anyway. And geology is what this book is all about.
"The cycles of the earth--the generation and destruction of plates--probably happened andante cantabile rather than largo."
Fortey interleaves poetry among his prose, and thereby shows his overwhelming enthusiasm for geology--though I could have done with a bit less of the poetry. He shows his enthusiasms in other ways, too, by announcing where his personal...more
Fortey, the leading scholar of trilobites (a giant marine wood louse that lived 450 million years ago), turns to geological history in Earth. He calls his work an "anti-textbook," and this moniker aptly describes the pros and cons of his book. In colorful and dramatic vignettes that delve deep inside Earth processes, from India's lava flows to the formation of the Alps, Fortey makes clear that Earth is a dynamic place beyond human control. But, if his descriptive travels generally lack geo-jargo...more
That being said, when he was on top of his game, th...more
An erudite, beautifully written tale of how the surface of the earth came to be as it is. A history of geology and plate tectonics shoots through the narrative like "dark Scourie Dyke cutting through pale gneiss." The thesis that geology sets the parameters...more
I have to admit though I nearly didn’t finish it; by about halfway though I’d had about as much as I could take of schist, gneiss, nappes and the endless litany of different places, geological periods and minerals that every new page seemed to require. So I put it down for a few weeks.
But eventually I built up the willpower to finish i...more
And yet, somehow I felt by the end of the...more
update May 2010 - picked this up again and reads like a new book - so much to learn and well written - like John McPhee's writing -highly recommended. rick read and liked it too. I like the part on Newfoundland best and would love to explore that ancient record of Atlantic, Iapetus and Rheic oceans - fascinating