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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 April 2005
This book is simply a magnificent account of the Earth's structure and how it "works". Taking as his framework a series of visits to key sites - including Hawaii, Vesuvius, the Alps, Newfoundland and the North West coast of Scotland - Fortey explains not only the structure of the Earth and how it came to be as it is, but also how our understanding of that structure has grown and developed over the past 2000 years. He also finds space to fit in (relevant) musings on the nature of progress in science, ecology and the effect of humans on the environment, and much more. A recurring theme is the effect of the underlying geology on the visible land and the way it is used. (In passing, I think this book would make excellent television.)
The book concludes with a virtual tour of the globe, swooping down to comment on this feature or that aspect, unifying the earlier, more particular studies in a spectacular fashion.
Fortey's writing is beautiful and well worth reading for its own sake, and his explanations are excellent. There are relatively few illustrations and diagrams, and more of these might have helped, but this is a very slight flaw in a wonderful book.
23 people found this helpful
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on 17 May 2004
Everyone ought to read this book. I never thought that a layman like me would be interested in geology but this book opened my eyes. He writes clearly and to the extaent that it is possible simply. (At least I could understand it) His words paint a clear picture of the changing earth; he uses places that are at least familiar, to show how the earth is the way it is and the way it was. He shows that the earth is a place of constant change and that the way it is now is not going to be permanent. His enthusiasm for his subject comes over in his writing which enthralled me in its description of the movements of the plates. My only very slight complaint is that some of the illustrations are a bit dull and that a glossary would have been helpful. But it is a truly fascinating work.
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2009
I bought this book after seeing it at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

Fortey writes very well and makes what could be a very heavy going book about geology very accessible. Every area of the world that he has been to, and is used as the basis for describing the processes that have helped shape our world, is written about in enough detail for you to imagine being there and seeing it through his eyes.

If there is one fault I could pick out with this book it would be the need for more diagrams. Even though this book is made accessible to anyone who wants to read about geology, I think diagrams would be an added bonus when explaining what nappes, unconformities etc. are.
6 people found this helpful
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A bit of a long and sometimes rambling text at first but then you gradually realise what a brilliant geologist and also story teller that Richard is. Vivid examples from all over the world illustrate all the geological concepts up to the present date. Also sound details of how many of these concepts have changed over time and have been developed after further study.
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on 6 July 2011
Must admit I struggled to finish the book. It is well written and interesting but some parts are a bit lenghty and I got lost sometimes. Not sure if the book was intended to casual readers like me.
The author makes several references and anecdots to his personal experience or tiny details that sort of bury the main ideas. This repeated to often can be irritating.
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on 13 October 2017
Just brilliant, a great read whether you interested in geology or not!
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on 7 November 2011
We all need to know something about the planet we live on. There are some marvellous ideas on the loose here 'Continental Drift aka plate tectonics; Deep Time- the idea of a long, long history... Read 'The Earth' by Richard Fortey- get a feel for your planet; learn to appreciate it and get ready to look after it.
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on 15 July 2014
Fantastic descriptions and an enthusiastic writer make this a truly enjoyable world tour. It tied the tectonic history of Earth together for me in a way that 5 years studying Geology didn't manage. A great read.
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on 19 December 2015
Great book. Goes into close detail but written in a very easy style. Whatever you're looking for in this subject, you'll find it in this book.
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on 16 January 2014
Manages to sum up all I ever needed (or want) to know about Geology in a very accessible form and without tangling everything into science :-) I'ts a great read whether you are specifically interested in Geology or not.
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