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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been fascinated by the author's story about how his experiences as a climber inspired by the beauty of the mountains encouraged him to became a world renowned geologist. The illustrations and photos and entertaining text draw us into his enthusiasm for the evolution of the earth's crust, the mountain building, the moving continents, and the growth and shrinkage of the oceans with the aeons. He has climbed them, walked them, tested them, analysed them, studied them, devoted his life to them. He knows what he is talking about.

But is not just an enthusiasm, there is real detail in great depth showing us exactly how it all happened, with clear diagrams, understandable explanations, hosts of relevant photos, and all backed up with the latest scientific knowledge. There are fifty pages of technical appendices including glossaries, references and indices. The book is a complete academic text, but one presented in such an accessible way that it will draw in the layman who has never thought about geology before.

This is possibly the best book I have had from Vine, and yet ostensibly it is an academic text all about geology! OK, I confess I wanted to be a geologist many years ago when young, but electronics and photography were more important so the dusty ancient history of the world quietly slipped away into the dim and distant past. Colliding Continents has re-ignited my interest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 6 August 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Gargantuan geological forces created the spectacular mountain ranges of the Himalaya and Karakoram. The author Mike Searle, one of the world's most experienced field geologists, tells the scientific story, illustrating it with his own photographs, and accounts of his hill-walking/mountain climbing and exploration in the region. This book is not a `dry treatment' of the forces at play in terms of geology of the region. The terms used and the narrative are very reader friendly. The book is laced with sumptuous photography that shows some of the most amazing landscapes in the world, while this book is not a straight forward text book, but is framed by the author's travels while exploring the landscape of the regions discussed. This is a highly recommended book for those interested in the geology of the area.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Mike Searle is both a mountaineer and geologist and 30 years exploring some
of the most remote parts of the Himalayas, as well the Karakorum and Tibet,
has enabled him to describe both the science and the magic of their creation.

His travels and research have culminated in this truly beautiful book. He gives
us a very real sense of the enormous subterranean forces which thrust the seabed
up to almost touch the stars when the Indian Plate forced its way into Asia some
fifty million years ago (a collision which continues today at a barely imperceptible
pace). It's an awe-inspiring idea captured in language which, despite his evident
technical prowess, would not leave the geological novice trailing too far behind.
In wonderfully lucid prose he makes both the enormity and wonder of his subject
come to life. The stunning photography, too, compliments Mr Searle's narrative and
takes us into cold corners of the World which few of us will be fortunate to visit.

A magnificent and utterly fascinating achievement. One of
the most beautiful books about mountains I have ever read!

Highly Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Colliding Continents is one geologist's account of his time in and around the Himalaya and Karakoram and his work in piecing together the geological history of this impressive region. The book is well written and features a vast number of excellent photographs and illustrations. Unlike some, I don't think this is at all textbook like but does require a reasonable level of comprehension, though no prior geological or mountaineering background is necessary as there are comprehensive glossaries and addenda at the end that explain any unfamiliar terms.

The book is unique (at least to me) in that it appears to bridge two seperate genres; it is part Popular Science part Travelogue - geology and mountaineering specifically and respectively - and the author is obviously expert in both. Being unacquainted with the latter, I was somewhat wary of ploughing through a subject I had little prior interest in, whilst chamfing at the bit to get back to the science. However these sections are well enough written and the author enthusiastic enough to impart that same enthusiasm to the reader. What is important in these sections is that we feel some of the grandeur of the mountains, that we understand that there is some sort of remarkable phenomenon that begs for an explanation. The excellent photographs - often the author's own - really speak for themselves in this respect and warrant extended examination.

The geology I am more familiar with, being an Open University student taking Earth Science courses. I found the science sections to be excellent revision for me, though there wasn't anything of such an advanced nature to leave the general reader bewildered. There is a scientific journey portrayed here of a gradually increasing understanding of how the Indian continent pushed into and under the Asian and pushed up great mountain ranges and the Tibetan plateau. The sequence of events is encoded in the rocks and the story of how the story was decoded is itself fascinating. Again excellent photography is used to great effect to help tell a story that is also aided by fantastic illustrations.

Overall, although initially dubious about the mountaineering aspects of the book, I was kept interested throughout and would recommend Colliding Continents to any curious person. If you're looking for a purely science-based account, you won't get it here but then science doesn't exist in a cocoon seperated from all other human endeavours and if you do decide to read this book you will be rewarded with a sense of the awesome nature of the region as well as some understanding of how it came to exist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For those not already in the know, it is likely to come as a considerable surprise that Africa, South America, Antarctica, Australia and India once formed a single land mass. They broke apart and for many millennia India was an island, moving inexorably north towards Asia. Eventually there was a major collision and India embedded itself deep into Asia, throwing up the Himalaya-Karakoram mountain chain and driving under Tibet to lift the extensive plain there to around 5km above sea level.

How do we know this? The full array of earth sciences is involved, geology is key. Mike Searle, Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, has for long been established as a principal contributor to our knowledge of how and when the Himalayan, Karakoram and Tibetan landscapes were formed. In the 30 years of his academic career so far, he has contributed detailed geological maps covering a huge area scarcely explored before; taken part in the scientific debate over a succession of theories and models; and been an effective communicator at the level of the TV science programme as well as within academia. This book is his account of all that, especially of his many exploratory visits to the region.

Reading the book requires an openness to the science, but no great prior knowledge, as everything is explained in terms understandable to anyone who once tackled A-level geography - or even could have, but didn't. If you happen to be a bit rusty on the differences between, say, greenschist, gneiss and shale, don't worry, it's all in the extensive appendices as well as the text.

But this isn't just an Earth Science textbook. It also tells us much about climbing and trekking in the region - historically, and by others as well as by Mike Searle himself. And there are potted descriptions of the various indigenous peoples, and of the political background. Most striking of all are the more than 200 pictures and diagrams. Predominantly of mountains, all are so beautiful it would be entirely feasible to treat this book as a coffee table book, leaving it around for visitors to leaf through in otherwise idle moments. Full marks to Mike Searle (himself the photographer in the great majority of cases), Oxford University Press, and to the book's designer; in almost every case the relevant picture or diagram is on the same page or no further than overleaf from the reference to it in the text. The whole book - printed in full colour on quality paper and bound both to last and to enhance the bookshelf - is a joy to behold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 15 June 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I received this book the first thing that struck me was the weight of it. At just short of 400 pages it weighed far too much. Then I saw the sheer quality of the book, the quality of the paper, the detail in every colour picture contained within it and the quality of the typing. Oxford University Press have done a fantastic job here. If I had written it I think I would have had it framed for public viewing. With books of this quality it is hard to see how e-books could have a chance (and I have a lot of them).

The content of the book has not just been written, it has been 'crafted' by Mike Searle. It starts by reading like a travel log but does not skimp on the geology. What struck me more than anything was the story of the determination to reveal the history of the Himalaya. Karakoram and Tibet no matter what it took to achieve it. Searle makes it so easy to follow by anyone that he leaves the reader feeling spellbound by the enormous task that has been taken over 30 years or so. The images used in the book throughout are stunning and in very high definition. It is worth buying this book just for the images alone. The graphs and diagrams are also in high definition quality and very easy to read. They too add a great deal to the story of how this huge region on the Earth was formed in what is a relatively short time, geologically speaking. The content is very comprehensive and clearly written in a way that makes the reader want to turn the page to see what happens next.

In short if you have any interest at all in the highest place in the World, either as a student or as a lay person then this is one book you should read. It will go on my bookshelfs in pride of place. Even those who want to be able to write such books should read it and use it as a template for their own work. You may be able to guess that I was impressed by this work and so will you be if you buy, or read, it. Simply stunning and something that Mike Searle should be extremely proud of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An excellent introduction to plate tectonics and geology mainly because it does not suffer from the sterility of text and reference books. Much colour is added to the formation of mountains, subduction zones, continents etc by the author's own travel experiences in the Himalaya. Some, who are looking for a good reference book, may find this offputting as the science can sometimes stray into the travel tangent; but don't be; all the information you require is here; the travel simply provides an outstanding and sometimes beautiful context. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2015
Mike Searle has managed to do a Richard Fortey with this well constructed book. Geology was once a relatively bland subject, and I have the books to prove it, but there are now experts in their field who can reach the layman and stir an unlikely interest. Searle has done for plate tectonics what Fortey did for trilobites by entwining adventures and travel with the core subject. Colliding Continents is a well balanced book, beautifully illustrated and simple to understand. It explains how the Indian sub-continent plate moved rapidly North to hit the Asian plate, forcing up the still rising Himalayan range and creating the Tibetan Plateau. The make-up of the Himalayan Giants are explained and there are plenty of asides relating to monasteries, tumbling rivers, disappearing oceans and hidden worlds to keep ones interest.

If you are a geology student, climber, traveller or armchair adventurer, this book is for you.
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on 1 June 2015
A great read. This is a brave attempt to target quite a wide audience, from those with an amateur interest in geology prepared to try hard, in which case Searle is an excellent guide, not at all patronising, to those like me with a knowledge of 'hard-rock' geology but without direct knowledge of the Himalaya, in which case the author provides a fascinating and specific account of the developing understanding of the dynamics of mountain-building. I could add the mountaineering interest of the book - fantastic photographs especially in the Karakoram - and Searle's evident respect for the many cultures he meets and interacts with. It can be read as an autobiography, either his own or as the history of Himalayan research, and in the latter case you learn about the most fascinating (because most recent) mountain range we have, as I said from both a mountaineering and geological point of view. I was particularly struck by the account of the Nanga Parbat range, where granites now located up to 8km above sea level have provided unique radioisotope dates of a few hundred thousand years, from a time when they were forming by deep crustal melting as India collided with and was thrust beneath Asia. This is close to the time we know our predecessor species Homo Heidelbergensis was living in Southern England, oblivious to the idea that an enormous mountain range was only beginning to take shape thousands of miles away. I've been reading the book at the same time as Adrian Pfiffner's on 'The geology of the Alps', and it's been intriguing to flip between the two on particular issues such as high-pressure metamorphism in comparable but different environments. Both books also act as guides to the academic literature, a particularly useful feature. All in all, Searle's book can be highly recommended. If you want to know about plate tectonics and especially mountain-building its specificity as opposed to more general accounts makes it unbeatable.
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on 19 June 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Colliding Continents looked very exciting to me when I first spotted it. I am studying an Earth Science masters so though it would be right up my street, and it was, to a certain extent. I feel this book is best suited to somebody with a basic understanding of plate tectonics already; there are quite a lot of technical terms and processes mentioned, sometimes with little explanation.

That being said I felt the first and second chapter stepped slightly away from the science in a lot of places and became more of a travel book detailing the author's exotic research excursions. I have to confess, after reading the first two chapters, I was a bit put off by this and skipped forward a chunk of chapters to read the chapter on the December 2004 Tsunami, which has always fascinated me. This chapter was a contrast to the first to chapters I'd read. Much more to the point, much more focussed on the science of what actually happened. I had intended to just read this chapter and then put the book down, but the nature of this chapter gave me hope there are others like it, so I now intend to read the rest of the book!

Over all, it is obvious the author is more or less THE word on Himalayan tectonic uplift and it is a topic he is passionate about. I think if you're looking for more than just an introduction to the subject, and enjoy or have the patience to read around the personal stories of his travels, then this is a good book for you.
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