on 3 January 2014
A very literate and sensitive yet scientific tour of the land. All lands in principle, but with an emphasis on England. The author is/was a professional archeologist (and explains the modern methodology excellently), but he doesn't rest there. He digs around in climateology, biology, technology, industry, religion, poetry and personal history. Sometimes his topics seem obscure (Saints?) but invariably the logic and fascination of the ideas comes through.
It reminded me in scope of what James Burke was trying to achieve in Connections, and also the main thrust of Peter Ackroyd's psychogeographical tours of London. Namely (the connectionist angle) that everything depends on nearly everything else, and secondly the sheer depth of human activity associated with the most seemingly mundane of places.
I found it absolutely fascinating, and have been outwardly unproductive for several days in the course of reading it. Meanwhile, I'm filled with more questions about how we got here, and where we might go next.
on 9 September 2013
My take on this book is that it reads somewhat like a series of essays on connected topics that range throughout hitsory.
Some of the essays appealed hugely to me, some didn't. The chapter entitled 'Notes from a dark wood', on theories of the degree of forestation throughout early and pre-history, I read in one go and found fascinating. Like Francis Pryor's comment I think it is a bold book, and an adventurous attempt to link themes that the author has covered in his professional and personal life.
At times it felt an easy read, at times a more scholarly one. The best thing about this book is that it regularly provided sentences that surprised me and made me reflect on my own personal theories in completely different ways.