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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rock rules, OK?, 28 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Collins New Naturalist Library (108) - Southern England: The Geology and Scenery of Lowland England (Hardcover)
Peter Friend deserves much credit for producing this book - there's been nothing like it since my fondly remembered copy of A E Trueman's (I may have mis-spelt this!) 'Pelican' -" The Geology & Scenery of England and Wales", and L Dudley Stamp's (much) earlier New Naturalist volume. I have read it thoroughly with interest, and found that it has given me many new insights into understanding the structure and scenery of this area, and this is as a keen naturalist who is also a graduate Geographer and a Geography teacher of many years' experience. The remit of the book is pretty effectively fulfilled, albeit that this is a tough job within the limitations of a volume of this size. The quality of the aerial photography used is excellent, as noted by other reviewers, and adds significantly to the ability of the reader to comprehend the geology and its effects on landscape.

The problems that I do find are, firstly, that the maps used, whilst often colourful and pleasing aesthetically, are not always easy to understand. Readers will find a considerable amount of turning back and forth of pages is necessary to ensure that what is referred to in the text is fully grasped. Secondly, I don't always find the chosen method of division of the area of 'Southern England' (which actually extends from Lands End up through the Severn & Avon valleys and diagonally across to The Wash , including all areas SE of this) works particularly well. The area is subdivided into rectangular blocks (based on large OS grid squares?), and this of course rarely matches well to the natural features of the landscape and the geological 'grain' of the countryside. It means that there is inevitably some repetition when zones which are geologically homogenous cut across these sub-divisions - as they frequently do. Even when there might only be a tiny area of, say, Jurassic rock outcropping in the far corner of one of these sub-divisions, then the author finds it necessary to describe and explain this also. Personally, I would prefer sub-divisions based on more obvious natural breaks in the landscape.

There is also the opportunity, I feel, for a future author to develop further the influence of geology beyond just basic physical landscape, to demonstrate how geology is also a key determinant of different types of habitat and ecosystem, and species distribution (biogeography). It would also be interesting to see a collaboration between someone like Oliver Rackham (historical landscapes and woodland history) and a geologist such as Peter Friend (hey - aren't they both at Cambridge University!).

I would recommend anyone with an interest in our landscape and scenery to purchase this book.
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