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Origins: The Evolution of Continents, Oceans and Life Hardcover – September 15, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Ron Redfern has received a number of prestigious literary and academic awards, including the American Institute of Professional Geologists' Outstanding Achievement Award.

About the Author

As a science writer Ron Redfern has received a number of prestigious literary and academic awards, perhaps most notably the American Institute of Professional Geologists' Outstanding Achievement Award. This was presented to him before his permanent return to England in 1996. The award was in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding in science.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (September 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806133597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806133591
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.2 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't add anymore about content than what has already been said. This is an excellent introduction to anyone interested in the Plate Tectonic history of the Earth.

The narrative along with the excellent images went a long way in helping clarify the dance that the continents have been doing for the last 4.6 billion years.

I kept an Earth globe with me along with several other paleo-maps I've collected over the years. They all helped in keeping track of what the author was refering to in each chapter.

I'm really glad that he took the time in laying out the early part of the Earth's geologic history and made only a fairly brief mention of mans time on the planet. It could have been even shorter that it was, but for the most part he kept it reasonable.

I am a retired USGS Geologist/Scientific Illustrator, and have read and Illustrated many USGS publications. I only wish I could have been involved in the preparation of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I write on behalf of the curator of our C. Warren Irvin Jr Collection of Charles Darwin:
"The book has two sections which are interposed: 1. the text is exceptionally well done, and the glossary is extremely valuable for those not completely famniliar with geology and the formation of continents, etc. 2. the photography is the best that I (the curator) has ever seen in a book of this type. It in itself is worth the price of the volume. Anyone who reads this book will come away enlightened and will enjoy thinking and reviewing in his mind both words and pictures."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I'm a scientist and I love the outdoors, I had only a rudimentary knowledge of geology/earth sciences before reading this book. Origins interweaves the history of the earth's continents, climate, and the evolution of life, and explains with clarity how they are interconnected. A running theme is that change has been, and will remain, a hallmark of our planet. Continents move. Ice advances and retreats. And life is always adapting.

The issue of man-made climate change is touched upon, but Redfern's primary goal is to elucidate the inevitable longer-term forces at play. For instance, it is nearly certain that Earth will re-enter a glacial period within the next couple of thousand years -- a tiny time frame by geological standards.

But, what makes this book truly compelling is the photography. The author utilizes dramatic landscape (and ice-scape) photography to tell the story of Earth's history. Origins serves as a non-technical science book AND a beautiful piece of art for the coffee table.

And, no, I have no connection to the author. I'm just very impressed with this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I have had the priveledge of close association with the author, Ron Redfern, throughout the writing, organization and photographic activities that support this publication. In a career of geology-based endeavors, I have never enjoyed a more unique, thorough and emminently readable portrayal of the interlocking sciences that result in the Earth's evolutionary history. This is a complex subject. However, the author has made the 700 million year trip a pleasure. The beautiful, panoramic photography, the interweaving of summary-level essays, and meticulously time-based text, lavishly supported by color illustrations, gives the reader a multi-disciplinary view of not only our planet's geologic evolution, but also its close association with meteorological events and the evolution of life. The reader will want to read and re-read this book. A wonderful adventure, every time, with new perspectives of "how things work" discovered on each page.
M.M. Thacker
Geologist
President, the La Mancha Company (consulting)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a gorgeous book full of extraordinary photography that actually explains earthquakes and volcanoes in a way that people who are not trained geologists can understand. As a book, you might think that this would be no big deal to find, but actually virtually everything on the subject are college textbooks, written for 8th graders, or professional texts written for other professionals. I was kind of shocked to discover how very little there is available for people who just want to know the mechanics of tectonics. This book is not only uniquely perfect to do the job (and sadly is going out of print very soon), but ia beautiful. There is, incidentally, excellent materials available through the Smithsonian Institution. That is just about all that is available for interested amateurs. I think there must be many people, in the wake of the catastrophic quake in Japan, who are looking for more informaiton on this subject. If you are one of these people, this book is a must. Check the Smitsonian's site at [...] for additional materials.
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Format: Hardcover
For years I've resisted writing a review on this book. It's just too monumental for a quick judgement. For years I've just marvelled at the photos and illustrative maps with their accompanying captions...... Pictorially alone I am not aware of any other book in print that matches the technical brilliance of the photos (and reproduction), and on this account alone I would unhesitatingly recommend it.

Now I have taken time to reading the main text systematically, and am filled with admiration of the sheer extent of Redfern's knowledge and clarity of understanding. One would need several lifetimes to absorb and savour all the learning in this tome. Bear in mind that the Redfern's original speciality is food and pharmaceutical production - but don't let this put you off - as history has often shown, it is frequently the 'outsider's' who make the decisive contributions.

So one could carry-on gushing......and at some point it would be fair to ask if there are any failings? Yes, there are perhaps a few quibbles in factual interpretation, tectonic-maps that maybe don't quite flow sequentially, an expanded and attractive contents-section that unfortunately doesn't have page numbers or dates lines etc - but all trifling in comparison with the overall magnificence of this book.

I salute Redfern, and if you want one of the world's great books - in the final age of the printed book - apprise yourself of a copy. You won't be disappointed.

(This review pertains to the Cassell & Co 2000 hardback edition.)
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