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on 17 April 2010
In a nutshell, I really enjoyed reading this book. It simply flowed, as well as providing a good insight into what otherwise could have been a dull specialist subject.
The book is a biographical story about a man with a passion for geology, but more particularly his pursuit for the age of the earth.

You really do 'experience' the 'highs' and 'lows' of this extraordinary life as Cherry Lewis manages to weave this story together from the meagre information available to her from diaries and letters written by Arthur Holmes over his lifetime.

It's a "story of one man's vision of developing a geological timescale, which lasted fifty years despite scientific opposition, financial hardship and personal tragedy".....

Although I personally differ in my views about the age of the earth (and not a geologist), this does not detract from the engaging nature of this well written book.
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on 22 November 2000
This is a great read and not only for geologists! Cherry Lewis is surely the Dava Sobel (of "Longitude" fame)of the geological world! She writes in a flowing style that that avoids the technicalities of its scientific subject.
Many people will know Arthur Holmes for his "Principles of physical geology", the book which helped to arouse my interest in the subject when I was at school. But the book tells much more about his geological work in Africa and his lifelong research to determine the true age of the Earth.
A fascinating read!
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on 3 August 2014
This book records the life and times of Arthur Holmes who for several decades of his life strove to determine the age of Earth.
Previous estimates had ranged from 60,000 years to 3 million years.Holmes would not accept these estimates and was rideculed and ignored by his coworkers but in the end he was vindicated whan radioactivity dating gave the age of Earth at 4.5 billion years.
Along the way Holmes managed to transfer geology from an art to a science and become one of the U.K.s foremost scientists.
A very well written and at times amusing story.
A first class book.
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on 19 September 2014
A fascinating biography of a fascinating brilliant geologist. In the absence of an autobiography this is the next best thing.
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on 4 March 2004
Arthur Holmes is a colossus of Earth Science, and geochronology in particular. His faith in his own ability and results brought forward the development of U-Pb dating and acceptance of one Geology's most powerful techniques. His determination to succeed ensured that Earth Science Departments with which he was associated, most notably Durham, became world class.
His story is an important one, and deserved to be told. However, the finished article leaves me wanting. The story of Arthur Holmes without science is not much, and I wonder if the author may have been better served by exploring the hard-facts of his science further. With its inclusion, the lay reader would more fully appreciate the magnitude of Holmes' contribution.
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