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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.
“Absorbing. . . . Cinematic. . . . 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. . . . This enticing book deserves to be read many times over.” —The New York Times
“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.” —Chicago Tribune
“Crammed with interesting material, vividly and colorfully conveyed. . . . Fortey is a writer with a gift for making natural history come alive. . . . A delightful book to dip into, a treasure-house of mind-expanding lore.” —Los Angeles Times
“Spectacular. . . . A tour de force. . . . For the science it covers, the human stories and the leisurely style in which it conveys vast amounts of information, Earth deserves to be a bestseller.” —New Scientist
“Enthralling. . . . Fortey's writing is lovely. There’s poetry in [his] words. . . . His gift for description is both intellectual and imaginative.” —The Village Voice
“[Fortey] takes the reader on a journey around the world including Mount Vesuvius, the Alps, Newfoundland, Los Angeles and the Deccan Traps in India. He is an eloquent guide.” —Scientific American
“Engaging. . . . With a naturalist’s view of the land and a geologist’s understanding of gradual change, Fortey does an admirable job of bringing the field to life.” —Science News
“A dazzling voyage of discovery showing how our ancient, battered planet endlessly recycles itself.” —The Sunday Times
“Fortey illuminates the world we know, and enriches our understanding of its past and future. Enjoy this remarkable book.” —Financial Times
“Dazzling . . . Important and timely. We now look at the world in a different way, and Fortey provides a tour of the high ground and the hot spots. This book could be classed as history, or as science, or science history, or even travel. Forget all categories: it is simply a splendid book.” —The Guardian
“A winning combination of bouncy prose and authoritative science has made Richard Fortey’s previous natural history books best sellers. His latest offering deserves the same success.” —Literary Review
“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.” —The Economist