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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
This is quite simply one of the best books I've ever read. The book explains why the landscape of Britain is the way it is, and also talks a bit about the different sorts of plants that grow in different areas. The book relates scenery to the underlying geology, and explains how Britain has evolved. I'd have liked more colour photographs, but that presumably would have...
Published on 23 Jun. 2002

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but needs more diagrams
This is a fascinating book and a joy to read BUT it needs a knowledge of geology to follow it as there are almost no diagrams. Many of the photos are beautiful but did not explain the geology to me. For the student of geology it must be an exciting and interesting read explaining geology and landscape of Britain. However, for the beginner it needs to be complemented by...
Published on 5 Aug. 2010 by John Bugg


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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 23 Jun. 2002
By A Customer
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This is quite simply one of the best books I've ever read. The book explains why the landscape of Britain is the way it is, and also talks a bit about the different sorts of plants that grow in different areas. The book relates scenery to the underlying geology, and explains how Britain has evolved. I'd have liked more colour photographs, but that presumably would have made the price soar. It is accessible to anyone; background in geology isn't necessary to enjoy this wonderful book.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, 25 Mar. 2004
By 
J. Charlesworth (Lewes, E. Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Quite simply one of the most engaging books on geology I've read. Fortey's prose is memorable and scattered with analogies & anecdotes which make the science memorable, and accessible. I've always been interested in geology, but never made an effort to pursue it, other than picking up rocks, and learning the very basics. The Hidden Landscape takes the reader into the field, and clearly describes what the rocks are and why they matter. It contains enough science not to be boring to those with some knowledge [I did a paleontology course at university that covered basic geology], but is clear enough not to baffle those with none.
While this book is enjoyable to read all the way through, it's also useful to return to as a reference.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fortey brings the landscape of Britain to life., 19 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
Once again Richard Fortey has managed to bring to the public one of the best and most easily read books of this type. His way of relating the geology to his own experiences is unsurpassed. It is one of those few books on geology and geomorphology which can you can go back to time and time again without it becoming stale. Novices and experts alike will learn something of the British landscape from this book. A must for any one interested in the make up of Britain.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but needs more diagrams, 5 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past (Paperback)
This is a fascinating book and a joy to read BUT it needs a knowledge of geology to follow it as there are almost no diagrams. Many of the photos are beautiful but did not explain the geology to me. For the student of geology it must be an exciting and interesting read explaining geology and landscape of Britain. However, for the beginner it needs to be complemented by a book such as Peter Toghill's "The Geology of Britain"The Geology of Britain. With the diagrams Fortey's book would be 5+ stars. For the amateur it's worth the effort to read both books together.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read, 9 Jan. 2006
By 
Adam (Cairo Egypt) - See all my reviews
Whether or not you have a background in geology this book will add a new dimension to your appreciation of the British countryside and the English Language. In one passage he describes Knockan Cliff, an unassuming crag in the lonely wilderness of Assynt, where the collision of two ancient continents 400 million years ago is recorded along a single rock surface which you can put your hand on if you know where to look :
"there is something about the Moine Thrust that is almost poetry. What could be more dramatic than the grind of rock against rock beneath the terrible grip of a vanished mountain range? And who could doubt that to see upon the ground the vestiges of a distant past adds to the richness of our experience of the present? There is an exquisite irony that sheep, the most nervous of animals, now peacefully graze slopes where continents came to rest. We may see only the ooze of a small, rush-rimmed spring to mark where rocks of unlike type came to lie one upon the other. The subtle differences in (drainage) of the rocks recognise the truth, where the ignorant walker could pass by enlightened, and the wind blows in the cotton grass as if none of this had ever been."
Thomas Hardy would have been proud.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to UK Geology - but not enough pictures, 4 Mar. 2013
By 
Mark Shackelford "mark shackelford" (Worthing, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past (Paperback)
Having also got Peter Toghill's superb The Geology of Britain, there is an interesting contrast between the two books.

"The Hidden Landscape" is a wonderful, poetic journey through the time and place (Geology and Geography) of Britain, from the earliest rocks in the far north-west, down to the youngest rocks - rather conveniently located in the south-east. Along the way we are treated to the author's gentle humour, and many vignettes of places he has visited (with a curious emphasis on pubs?). I learnt a lot from this book (which I read first) but was a bit frustrated by descriptions of places (and interesting rock formations) that were left to my imagination. This is OK for poetry or fiction - but perhaps not for a science book.

I then found "The Geology of Britain" - which may not be as poetic or redolent of the glories of Britain, but does have lots (and LOTS) of photographs. Pretty much everywhere that frustrated me in The Hidden Landscape with its invisibility is pictured in this second book.

So I recommend this book (The Hidden Landscape) but also suggest you try The Geology of Britain - more science and more photographs.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fortey's Hidden Landscape, 8 Feb. 2012
By 
Mr. A. Pearce "Adam Agape" (Solihull) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past (Paperback)
Another great book by Richard Fortey. It was published in 1993, but this edition adds photos and other illustrations. A classic when first published, and a classic now
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Landscape, 4 Dec. 2012
By 
elcee (East Anglia U.K.) - See all my reviews
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Richard Fortey's writing style is excellent. Easy to read and follow. When travelling I now view the countryside very differently from my previous casual manner Journeys are now so full of interest
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past by Richard Fortey, 9 Dec. 2009
By 
Walter H. Pierce (Cypress, Tx USA) - See all my reviews
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For me this is a delicious book which I read with enjoyment.

This book, focusing on England, Scotland, and Wales with a bit of Ireland, is a little like a Historical Geology text, but it is different. First it is a personal text written almost like a memoir. Second, although it is organized stratigraphically, that is, beginning with the oldest rocks and finishing with the youngest, the information is tied to landscape rather than to modern stratigraphic nomenclature. And, landscape here means not just rocks but plants, architectural building materials, roads, water, walks, and more and more.

Attempting to think of an American equivalent to this book, and the nearest I can come is something like a mixture of C. B. Hunt's Physiography of the United States and something written by Ann Zwinger. It is possible that for students this might be better (more interesting) than a typical Historical Geology text.

Fortey states that: "Instead, what I want to explore are the connections between geology and landscape." (page 1). It seems to me that Fortey chose what to include in the text by choosing his favorite "connections" and then stringing the most interesting "connections" together into historical sequence. "This is a book about connections between geology, natural history and ourselves." (page 14). He has something here which may help us learn and enjoy the vast factual detail that goes with landscape and geology: "Somehow, the enjoyment of the trick is more satisfying than the the explanation." (page 1). His connections that have irony or represent a paradox seem to give him and the reader special delight. Part of his theme is: "Much of the character of our country is governed by its geology, and determined by the rocks." (page 13). For me his connections make everything more memorable.

Fortey is seeking something more general, and more holistic than just landscape in the usual sense: "But all these evidences of past activities sit on the bedrock of geology. Human endeavours do not succeed if they deny the geological realities. This hidden landscape is a part of all our lives." (page 27). For him landscape really includes "hidden landscape" or includes all of the underlying reasons or connections which give understanding to why the totality of landscape is the way it is. "For the way we understand landscape has to do as much with what is in our minds, as with what we think we see with our eyes."

There are seventeen chapters. Each chapter is more like an essay than a text chapter. Below is the table of Contents with my more prosaic geologic translation of the chapters in parentheses, where needed.
1)Journeys to the Past (Introduction) 2)Names, Origins, Maps and Time 3)The Oldest Rocks (Precambrian) 4)The Great Divide (Lower Phanerozoic and Moine Thrust) 5)'Here be dragons': Caledonia (Northwest Iapetus Coast) 6)The Southern Uplands (Southeast Iapetus Coast) 7)The Land of the Ordovices (Ordovician) 8)The Red and the Black (Devonian) 9)Fells and Dales (Lower Carboniferous - Mississippian) 10)Coal and Grit (Upper Carboniferous - Pennsylvanian) 11)Lost in the Sands (Permian and Triassic) 12)Vales and Scarps: the Jurassic 13)The Weald (lower Cretaceous) 14)The Chalklands: Downs and Flints (upper Cretaceous 1) 15)The Chalklands: Beechwoods and Trout Streams (upper Cretaceous 2) 16)Tertiary Times (Tertiary and Volcanism) 17)East Anglia: Sky and Ice.

As an American you have to put up with: downs and dales, fells and vales, but that is not a bad thing. Still the constant assault of geographic names can wear one down.

Fortey loves words and names, and in Chapter 2 makes a forceful and eloquent argument for appropriate taxonomy and words. I understand that the numerous new words adds to the poetry of this book, and I appreciate them as a source of new "stumpers" for my friends; but there were times for someone like myself who does not know cnocs from cromlech when looking things up became a bit tiresome. My plea, mostly, would be directed toward a second edition with the addition of two or perhaps three helpful index maps designed to help the reader.

The book serves as a travel guide: "It was in Dulverton that I ate the perfect cream tea. There is no greater sensual indulgence: cream so thick it is reluctant to leave the spoon, strawberry jam heavy with fruit, and crumbly scones with a hint of astringency to balance the sugar in the jam, and all piled up as high as they will go. Although it is possible that the cream originated on the New Red Sandstone in Mid-Devon, I prefer to believe that it was produced by cows grazing water meadow flanking the lower reaches of the nearby River Barl or the River Exe" (page 125). You also get advise on the best Ale, best Stilton, and how to find Amber.

There is humor: "Between the Lower Greensand, which may not be green, and as we have seen is often rusty with iron, and the Chalk, which is definitively white, there is the dark Gault Clay and the Upper Greensand, which , surprisingly, actually is green" (page 209).

And there is wise advice: "Nothing in geology is more certain than change: even the cliffs on which you stand are doomed."

In conclusion this is great book. My hope is that book will engender more like it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! Beautifully written, fascinating and engaging., 21 April 2013
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A fabulous book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's beautifully written, manages to clearly distill the essence of what is a very complex subject and I now have a picture of Britain in my head so I can see where all the different ages of rocks lie and how they impact plants, animals, countryside, topography, buildings etc etc. Marvellous!
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The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past
The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past by Dr Richard Fortey (Paperback - 4 Feb. 2010)
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