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The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks: Tales of Important Geological Puzzles and the People Who Solved Them

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Every rock is a tangible trace of the earth’s past. In The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks, Donald R. Prothero tells the fascinating stories behind the discoveries that shook the foundations of geology. In twenty-five chapters—each about a particular rock, outcrop, or geologic phenomenon—Prothero recounts the scientific detective work that took us from the unearthing of exe ...more
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 by Columbia U. Press
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Oct 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: blue
For whatever reason, geology in modern times has not received the attention of, say, astronomy, particle physics, or biology. This is not only because those fields have blockbuster breakthroughs like the Big Bang and exoplanets, quantum physics and relativity, or evolution and DNA to grab people's attention. The story of how plate tectonics came to be understood (and believed) is easily as interesting. In the middle of the 20th century, most geologists still did not accept that something as appa ...more
Although I do have some interest in geology, I am also NOT in any way an expert (and do in my humble opinion not really even possess all that much of a basic background of knowledge on rocks, minerals and the like, except for of course being aware of what plate tectonics represent, that many volcanoes and earthquakes actually occur due to this and that there are three main types of rocks, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic). Therefore, with Donald R. Prothero's The Story of the Earth in 25 Roc ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started out liking this book and enjoyed reviewing topics I have not covered since my college days. However, half way through, I realized I just wanted to be finished. I did not like the name dropping, the many side notes on the author’s experience, the unwanted interjection of the author’s opinion, and unfocused chapters. All of these are ill suited for a science book. Also, despite the Preface indicating this book is for a variety of audiences, I do not recommend this for the lay person, bec ...more
Interesting book, but the constant name-dropping (“I knew so-and-so who proposed this theory when I was at Such-and-such university”; “I was at this particular meeting too, but I was focused on other research problems.”) are not only irrelevant to the story being told, but rather off-putting.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m not sure I would recommend this book to anyone without education in the geologic sciences. I have a background in geology and I enjoyed and was educated by the stories in this book. I especially enjoyed the diagrams and illustrations. However the book could have been much more enjoyable if the author had not constantly name dropped and overused the word “famous“ or other such superlative‘s. The word “famous” and “Geologist“ are not tacked together for most of us, but the author uses this com ...more
Natalie Waddell-Rutter
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A book full of fascinating tidbits that is perfect for dipping in and out of. I read it in order, with a couple of fiction books thrown in to break things up. Isaac, on the other hand, is reading chapters as they pique his interest. There's no through-narrative to the chapters, so either method works. I found each chapter quite informative and learned something, even when I felt like I knew what the chapter was about.

One odd thing I notice was the author did a fair bit of name-droppi
M Harris
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having had my interest in geology piqued by an introductory geosystems course, I was given this book as a present by a family member. In the early chapters I wasn't sure that I would like the book, as I found it to be more related to human history than I expected. However, as it progressed and focused more on how rocks were used to solve geologic mysteries, I came to enjoy it a lot. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in earth science, the history of science, or geology.
Michael Earney
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rock Music

Enjoyed reading this immensely. Wonderful, informative and thought-provoking summaries of a vast body of geological research written for anyone with even a casual interest in the earth sciences. Should be part of any middle and high school science curriculum. This old lady found it fascinating! in spite of the fact that my photo appears beside this book and purports to be my review, Michael Earney did not review this book.
Annika Martin
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Minus points for not having color photos and maps - a huge deficit for a geology book!!

Also minus points for the author’s annoying habit of self-dropping himself into the story by inserting parentheticals that he knew this or that person or had been to this or that conference. Who cares?
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, well written and illustrated book about earth’s geology and how we have figured out what we know so far. I learned a lot.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-nonfiction
Interesting series of vignettes on geological topics. Fairly light reading, which is about as much as I am up for these days.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I finished this way back in October. I loved the format of this book. Each chapter is its own narrative but the narratives build on each other, concept by concept and event by event. I had to take notes in places because it was a library book and I wanted to be able to reference back to some of the info and I made a huge list of more books to read from the citations. Prothero does a pretty good job of making what might be a fairly dry topic a bit more readable. If your brain is not in "on" mode ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don Prothero has given us a well-researched, tightly worded and very readable work. Its a history of earth, and a history of science - and since a lot of what we know about geology has been learned rather recently, the author knows many of personalities personally.
A very enjoyable and educational book. Highly recommended.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good for non-fiction, due back at library though!
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Donald R. Prothero is a Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He teaches Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology. His specialties are mammalian paleontology and magnetic stratigraphy of the Cenozoic. His current research focuses on the dating of the climatic changes that occurred between 30 an ...more