From Publishers Weekly
Though few of the leaf peepers driving through the Smokies this fall will know it, the Appalachians used to extend all the way to Scotland. In this sprawling geological survey, British paleontologist Fortey (Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution
) tells readers that millions of years ago, before the land masses broke apart, the Caledonide Mountains formed the northernmost end of an enormous mountain range. Starting in the shadow of Vesuvius, Fortey's global tour moves to the Hawaiian islands, which, he explains, are falling back into the sea from northwest to southeast. Readers trek with him through the Alps and learn how rock folds and stretches. Fortey doesn't restrict himself to current geological time: he says the continents have broken apart and reformed more than once and will likely crunch together again in a few million years; the Pacific Ocean is gradually closing up because the lighter-weight continents are slowly drifting over the underlying basalt. Some readers may wish for more discussion of desert areas, though there is a beautiful account of a descent through Earth's history via burro into the Grand Canyon. Fortey's writing is wonderfully descriptive, but once in a while one wishes he'd kept to his main path and not wandered off into tangential topics. Geology and earth sciences buffs will eat this up. 32 pages of color illus. not seen by PW; 58 b&w illus.
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From Scientific American
"Geology underlies everything: it founds the landscape, dictates the agriculture, determines the character of villages." Fortey, senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, set out to explore those connections. "My solution has been to visit particular places, to explore their natural and human history in an intimate way, thence to move to the deeper motor of the earth--to show how the lie of the land responds to a deeper beat, a slow and fundamental pulse." His stops as he takes the reader on a journey around the world include Mount Vesuvius, the Alps, Newfoundland, Los Angeles and the Deccan Traps in India. He is an eloquent guide
Editors of Scientific American