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The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth's Intiquity

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  394 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
There are four men whose life's work helped free science from the straitjacket of religion. Three of the four - Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Charles Darwin - are widely heralded for their breakthroughs. The fourth, James Hutton, is comparatively unknown. A Scottish gentleman farmer, Hutton's observations on his small tract of land led him to a theory that dire ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 340 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by ReadHowYouWant (first published 2003)
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Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book during my recent trip to Edinburgh, and it quickly became my favorite companion. I'd wanted to learn more about James Hutton (father of geology!), especially since I was visiting the very city where he'd given his startling lectures in 1785 pronouncing the Earth as "immeasurably old" -- much older than the then-accepted age of 6,000 years! And indeed, this book delivers. It tells a great and gripping story---or rather, several stories.

Other reviewers have complained that t
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
"James Hutton burst the boundaries of time, thereby establishing geology's most distinctive and transforming contribution to human thought--Deep Time."--Stephen Jay Gould.

The Bible taught us that the world was "created" in about a week. By studying the ages of Biblical characters, scholars figured out that the world was about 6,000 years old. To counter that would mean hellfire and being burned to death here on earth. Some scientists still showed courage.

Nicolaus Copernicus argued in 1543 that
Mar 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Probably due to the fact that there just isn't much information about James Hutton, this book was more of a history of the times and places he lived. It didn't have the excitment factor that some other science biographies do.
Leah K
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Do you know who James Hutton is? Don’t feel bad if you don’t, he is a name that has unfortunately disappeared over time. So who is he? He originated the theory of uniformitarianism, which explained the Earth’s crust by means of natural process. Hutton's work established geology as a proper science, and thus he is often referred to as the "Father of Modern Geology". Hutton wasn’t a great writer though and his communication skills needed some work so it would take almost a century for his work to ...more
Francis Riley
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I came across this book by accident while spending some time in Edinburgh, (my family on my mother's side originated from Edinburgh and I have spent many a happy hour in the city). Holidays are a great time time to explore and I wanted to know more about the characters that formed part of the Enlightenment, particularly those with the Scottish connection or background. I'd shown little interest in learning anything about history (and certainly not geology) at school so there was no reason to cho ...more
The book is in part a biography of the 18th century British geologist James Hutton and also a description of cyclical theory of geology, and also describes its influence on future geologists, especially Lyell, a leading British geologist of the middle third of the 1830s.. Without Lyell, Hutton might have been forgotten. Some minor factual errors
Review of Ages in Chaos: James Hutton and the Discovery of Deep Time by Stephen Baxter, November 2, 2009
By Walter H. Pierce

This review is from: Ages in Chaos: James Hutton and the Discovery of Deep Time (Paperback)
This book gives an accurate assessment of the contributions of James Hutton (1726-1797) to science in general and geology in particular. Baxter gives "deep time" emphasis, but he does this, not by allowing the question of time to dominate the book. The organization of the book serves
Barry Bridges
Repcheck addresses the age of the earth and hits high points on the timeline of the man who helped establish the field of geography. He does well with laying the foundation of where thought was at the time, and covering the contemporary scientific theories.
Alexis Kaelin
More of a 3.5.
Dennis Mitton
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The evolution/creation debate isn’t the first time in history that science and religion have drawn a line in the sand. In the late seventeen hundreds, in the middle of the Scottish Enlightenment, James Hutton began to actually look at the geology of the countryside and ask himself if the prevailing Biblical explanation of a young earth and global flood provided answers that matched his observations. It did not. Over several decades he developed an argument for an old earth and was the first to s ...more
William Schram
This book was really interesting. It covered a person I had heard of before, but not directly. As this book states, James Hutton postulated that the Earth was actually older than the Bible would have us believe. Some other people came up with theories for that too, but they didn't have satisfactory evidence to back up their claims. So Dr. Hutton goes out and finds proof of all of his theories, but there are detractors of course. Most people were wedded to the idea of the Biblical creation for ma ...more
Michael Haydel
I picked up The Man Who Found Time at a HPB for cheap because it looked like the sort of book I tend to enjoy reading: nonfiction, on a somewhat obscure, quirky, or otherwise odd subject, and the veritable Title: Subtitle format.

In the end, the book provided me with a much more in depth account of the beginnings of geology and the man who is widely considered to be its father than I would have expected for such a small and relatively short book. It did tend to lean more towards geology itself, m
I found this book a bit of a disappointment. Not that it wasn't interesting, mind you. I learned quite a bit about the history of the City of Edinburgh. I learned more than I already knew (which wasn't very much) about Scotland's Jacobite rebellion in 1745-46. And I got a good feel for the "Scottish Enlightenment" era and the luminaries who made it one of the greatest periods of progressive thinking in history. All great stuff, but what I did not learn much about was how James Hutton (subject of ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book about a little-known geologist who was the first to pronounce that the earth is immensely old. His name was James Hutton and he had his heyday during the Scottish Enlightenment. He died in 1797.
The book is very well focused and therefore rather brief (216 smallish pages). It gives a terrific sense of how knowledge is enlarged and how science progresses.
Hutton's insight into the age of the earth was important because it broke the religious yoke that held that the earth
Bill Leach
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Hutton is known as the "Father of Modern Geology". He is credited with the idea of Uniformitarianism which recognized that the geological processes affecting the earth today are no different than those of the past. He also recognized the role of subterranean heat in geologic processes, whereas previous theories all keyed on water as the agent.

Geological theory before Hutton was largely based upon religion, holding that the earth's structure had precipitated out of the deluge and the earth'
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever the great names in science are listed the Einstein, Lydell, Darwin, Mendle, Watson and others the name of James Hutton is rarely mentioned. Author Jack Repcheck wanted to alter that, to see as it were, that Hutton gets his due. Thus he titled his book The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton And The Discovery Of Earth's Antiquity. Herein lies the problem, I selected this book expecting to learn more about James Hutton. However, as other reviewers have noted this is not a book about James Hu ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some complain of digressiveness in this book, which didn't deter me; I like to get extra context. In this case there isn't a lot of personal detail to be had about the man, so too bad for those wanting that sort of biography. I just wanted more after hearing about him in an introductory physical geology class. Here was lots. What his city was like, how unlike his personality his stuffy published work was.... I did get bogged down in the biblical cosmology stuff: interesting that people worked so ...more
John Mccullough
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a small, compact account of how James Hutton demonstrated that 6000 years was inadequate to account for the formation of rocks he knew around Scotland and northern England. Hutton was a man of many occupations, farmer being one of them. He know all about erosion - what it was and how it worked. He applied this knowledge to his interpretation of Scottish geology. How man hears to form the rock strata? How many years to shift this rock upright? More than 6000. And so the estimate by Bishop ...more
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about James Hutton, who is known as the Father of Geology. It goes through his life, how he came to his monumental theories, and how they eventually came to be accepted. Little is actually known about the life of Hutton, and I felt the author did a good job not dwelling on theories of what he *might* have been up to, but instead filling in the gaps with historical tidbits that gave the book a global feel. Topics touched on in the book ranged from famous people (such as Darwin, Hume, ...more
James F
A very simply written -- I'm almost tempted to classify it as Young Adult -- biography of James Hutton, the founder of "uniformitarianism" in geology. There is no original scholarship here; the science and history are both oversimplified and not altogether accurate. Hutton is the hero, treated totally uncritically, and the story is basically just Scientist vs. Christians. Nevertheless, Hutton is an interesting figure and I enjoyed reading about the little that is known of his life, as well as so ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Repcheck places Hutton with Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin for breaking science out of an erroneous, theology-driven paradigm. Hutton was among the first geologists to approach the field as a science through theory and observation. He was also the first to posit the theory that the earth continually cycled through erosion and volcanic pressure, which also implied ancient, immeasurable age. He died with the theory widely discredited, but it later triumphed due to the influence of his friends Bla ...more
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Although I got this book for my wife, I decided to give it a go myself as it looked quite interesting. I was not wrong, the book gives a fascinating insight into a fascinating man. Although it concentrates on Hutton himself other visionaries don't get left out. The only negative I could say about the book is the author tends to repeat himself quite often, but this is not a major problem. I would heartily recommend this book to any who has even passing interest in either geology, or the Scottish ...more
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a pleasant surprise; I picked it up as a quick read while waiting for a requested book to be returned to the library. It is not so much the story (it is far too general to be a biography) of James Hutton, the father of modern geology who established the antiquity of the earth in the late eighteenth century, as an overview of the Scottish Enlightenment and of the many men of insight and imagination who inhabited Edinburgh and environs at that time. Repcheck's prose never bogs down as so many ...more
Stacy Peltier
Some good back facts on the Scottish Enlightenment, but overall this book was just EH. The author's writing style was particularly lacking, and he kept repeating himself. It also seemed like there hasn't been enough preserved information about Hutton's life to make an accurate biography, so the book was filled with hypotheses and generalities.

I gave it the extra star solely because the first couple chapters (albeit having nothing to do with James Hutton or geology) were pretty cool - a really q
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an absolutely excellent book. I know people have taken issue with the fact that there isn't so much about Hutton in it, but it sounds as if details of his life are scanty and this book does an excellent job of bringing those details together in the context of the history of science, the area where he lived and made his discoveries, the climate of his education, and the influence of his work on future generations. The book was very well written and accessible. Fascinating throughout.
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of readable history, especially people-related history. And, having never heard of James Hutton, but being assured by the back cover of the book that he ranked alongside Darwin, Galileo and Copper-knickers, I was intrigued.
It's a fast easy read and an interesting biography of the man who discovered that the world was a good deal more than 6,000 years old. Fortunately for him, he did this in an era when heretics were no longer burned at the stake.
Rachel Rogers
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book describing the life of James Hutton who was among the first to prove the Earth was older than the Bible says. Hutton's findings were apparently important to Darwin when writing Origin of the Species, all because he found fossils of seashells and other small sea creatures high on a mountain side and couldn't justify the runoff and sedimentary erosion over 6000 years.

Well-written, entertaining, full of interesting tidbits about the world.
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
An enjoyable read that will lead you through a brief history of the science of detecting Earth's age and Darwin's theory of evolution. The main focus of the book is the geologist, James Hutton, who was the first to state that the earth was older than 6,000 year. A belief wrapped up in biblical thinking of the time. The book is easy to read and shows the eureka moments that lead to the theories we understand today.
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Recomended to me by a friend, this short biography about the father of modern geology was engaging, inspiring and offers a very wide view into the life and times of not only Hutton but also his contemporaries. I am confident that this book has the potential to captivate the geologist and non-geologist audience.
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book is well-researched and well-written, and definitely opened my eyes to a whole age of inquiry and discovery about which I was not much aware. However, ultimately I found the subject of geology to be, well, just not very captivating.

I can only assume that if you find geology a more engaging subject, you should add at least a few points to my review.
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