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4.6 out of 5 stars17
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 27 February 2011
I should probably disclose the fact that I haven't actually read this book myself (beyond a quick skim through), I bought this as a gift for my dad who is currently studying geology with the Open University. His praise for the book was so effusive, however, that I felt I should share his enthusiasm here! He thought the premise of the book was fantastic, to essentially tell the story of the earth's geology through a pebble, and he found the book thoroughly enjoyable and very informative. Obviously a book like this is not a substitute for a geology textbook, but that is part of it's strength - it is totally approachable for people with little background knowledge, without being too basic for people who have studied some geology.
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on 2 June 2012
Geology is fortunate in that it always seems to have attracted people who are both excellent scientists and excellent writers; who can make things clear to the layperson without insulting over-simplification. This contrasts rather strongly with disciplines like history and literature, where scholarship almost invariably goes hand in hand with unreadability. (I believe there are compulsory courses in pretentious obscurity for all humanities students at graduate school.) Of course geology does attract metetricious amateurs as well, but it's fairly easy to filter them out.

This book is one of the best on geology that I've read for ages. Starting from a pebble - cunningly chosen for its nature and location - the author takes us back in time to the beginning of the world, forward again through the geological ages and even on into the future, as the fate of pretty well every atom in the pebble is debated. It's brilliant, and you will never look at pebbles in the same way again.

One rap over the knuckles for the publisher: why does the cover (at least of the paperback edition) feature entirely the wrong kind of pebble? Does OUP never bother to check this sort of thing with the author? Cambridge UP jolly does, I can tell you.
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on 27 December 2010
This book does not act as textbook for rock study, nor does it just describe a pebble. Instead the pebble is used as a vehicle for leading you through to show how the Earth developed over geological time. The concepts are nicely explained with just enough insight to intrigue but not too much to lose you. I guarantee you will learn something new, even if you are a in the field of geology.
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on 22 December 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whilst it is well known that Blake saw a World in a grain of sand, here we are presented with the whole Universe in a pebble. The way in which so many fundamental geo-scientific themes are skilfully and accessibly linked to a single pebble from a Welsh beach is inspired. Whether you are a trained geologist or lay-reader, I promise that you will learn something here. Fantastic!
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on 26 January 2011
I enjoyed this book, and learnt from it. The author unfolds the far reaches of geological time in Britain as each succeeding chapter follows the ups and downs (or more exactly downs and ups) of what eventually became a smallish pebble picked up on a Welsh beach. One gets a clear idea of its changing environment, and the advanced techniques now available to a geologist. The style comes across as conversational rather than academic, and the author does not draw back from acknowledging difficulties and ongoing uncertainties. Just one minor criticism - in places, a simple diagram might have helped.
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on 26 December 2012
As an amateur I read this book hoping that it would not be too technical. It is brilliant, providing a really clear explanation of the origins of the particles that make up this pebble on this beach. For the first time, it gave me the whole narrative history of what is in a stone on the beach with very accessible, though thankfully not dumbed-down, explanations. I can recommend this book to amateur geologists or general readers with an interest in the subject.
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on 27 March 2016
This book presents a very imaginative approach to an aspect of geology which is often overshadowed by more spectacular events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In effect it is the life cycle of a pebble, describing how a multitude of different mineral and organic particles transforms through a variety of processes over millions of years into a piece of rock that can be picked up on typical beach along the west coast of Wales. Maintaining the ‘pebble’ theme throughout, the author weaves into the story references to palaeontology, mineralogy, stratigraphy, palaeobiology and early tectonic plate theory, so there is much to learn even for the casual reader. This said, the book will probably be appreciated and understood to a greater degree by those with an existing interest in geology and its associated areas of study. Definitely worth a five star rating.
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on 15 December 2013
Definitely gives you an insight in to how a pebble can show the story of the planet. An easy read (sometimes too easy if you have some knowledge of geology) but it could spark your interest if not.
A book to keep and read again.
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on 23 November 2012
With a degree in Geology (some time ago) and an interest in cosmolgy, this excelent book fulfilled all of my hopes and expectations - not least being, brushing up on my geology.
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on 7 April 2014
An ideal book for the scientifically interested lay person. Provides a fascinating account of the development of pebble on a Welsh beach from Silurian silt beneath an ancient ocean and the myriad forces and processes, physical, chemical and biological that affected its creation. In effect this is both a history of the earth and an insight into the methods employed by geologists and paleontologists. The book is written in light easy style providing enough, but not too much, scientific and technical information. A fascinating read which left me wanting more.
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