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The Hidden Landscape: A Journey into the Geological Past Paperback – 4 Feb 2010
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"A superbly exciting work of popular scientific writing" (AN Wilson The Financial Times)
"A very well written book about geology and geological history" (Sir David Attenborough, The Times)
"We have a new classic... this is popular science at its best; it's beautifully written, constantly witty and excellently illustrated." (Financial Times)
"Imbued with its author's deep sensitivity to shifting atmospheres, his overwhelming passion for England, Wales and Scotland as living bodies pulsing, breathing, twitching beneath our feet, and his contagiously personal view of his subject." (Jonathan Keates Observer)
An updated edition of the classic book about Britain's geology, by the bestselling author of Life: An Unauthorised Biography and Dry Store Room No. 1.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
While this book is enjoyable to read all the way through, it's also useful to return to as a reference.
"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.
"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.
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A prehistoric ride through the geological ages written such that you are there with the author. Excellent.Published 14 months ago by MRS J N PEELING
As someone with an interest in geology I found the book instructive and understandable. A couple of basic errors such as Delabole quarry being located in North Devon which should... Read morePublished 17 months ago by an ula
Fabulous book, very highly rated by a number of top writers including Nick Crane. Takes you on a tour thru several billion years and from St Davids Head to Land End, to the Wash... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Biffo
Hugely interesting and readable book. I knew nothing about geology when I started and still found it a compelling and enjoyable read. Read morePublished on 11 Dec. 2014 by Lucy
An interesting book on the geology of the UK, taking the reader on a trip around the British Isles. Looking at why the landscape is the way it is, how it was formed, ans what can... Read morePublished on 3 Sept. 2014 by Andy