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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 13 August 2007
This excellent book manages to delve deep into the complexities of Scottish geology using lucid explanations of sometimes quite complex science to explain details and principles which are usually either avoided by the dumbing-down demanded by popular science or couched in terminology so esoteric as to be incomprehensible to the less-than-PhD standard reader. The only book I have read which is truly worthy of its wonderful subject matter and surely compulsory reading for any aspiring geologist, geomorphologist or anyone simply eager to understand something of Britain's most wild and beautiful landscapes.
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on 14 June 2007
Bought this book on the strength of its title and the backup material on its website huttonsarse.com. Not disappointed - it lives up to its title. Not a field guide, and doesn't assume any knowledge of geo-jargon. But serious heavyweight geology in a lucid, personal, and entertaining style. I gave my copy away to a friend who lives in Wester Ross so now I'm back on Amazon buying another.
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on 15 June 2008
I've enjoyed this book immensely since I found it in a little shop in Gairloch. Its compelling title drew me in and as soon as I saw Scotland's geology was being discussed with that of the Moon and Mars, I knew Rider was on the right track. At times, Rider leans a bit heavily on the terms and expressions he knows so well from his geology background and gentler guidance for the reader would help get some of the finer points of geology across. I also could have done without the rants about wind farms. They seemed so out of place in such a good book. Nevertheless, Rider ably mixes fine storytelling of a human dimension with the awe of Earth's history and context in the Solar System.

Well done, Malcolm Rider. Your book is a gem.
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on 25 March 2010
This book gives a great overview of the early geological development of our planet. It manages to be readable for the non-geologist without dumbing-down the content. It does use technical terms, but those that are important are explained, the rest can be ignored without losing the thread of the argument. The writing allows the reader to engage with the material at his or her own level. The book also uses many historical anecdotes to give an entertaining background to the geoligical concepts explained. Its a great book, entertaining without losing the academic content.

Why not 5 stars? Well, mixed in with the excellent geological material are the author's completely off-topic rants, complaints and petty grievences about everything from wind-farms and fishing to Saddam Hussain. Better the author reserved this material for disussions in the pub, or the letters column of his local newspaper.
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on 15 August 2010
This catchily-titled book gives a fascinating introduction to the three-billion year evolution of the modern northern Scottish landscape. Although written for geological laymen and women, at times I had to re-read sections to understand them. It contrasts with the more formally written 'Land of Mountain and Flood' which describes the process for the whole of Scotland and is easier to understand. Malcolm Rider lets his enthusiasm and personality permeate the book, and comes across as a good guy to have a pint with.
I see the two books as complementary. Together they are inspirational in motivating the reader (book in hand, camera around neck, and damn the rain)to get out there, and see for him or herself. And, yes, I've made a start and there's a long way to go, but there are far worse ways of spending time!
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on 26 June 2010
I find myself in total agreement with previous reviewers.
This books covers, in some depth, some of the complexities of modern geology as applied to northwest Scotland with both passion and some humour.
It made me want to revisit the areas described and to see the details that I had missed, indeed the book should be sponsored by the Scottish Tourist Board!
Some of the detailed science may be difficult for some readers but that is why hard won understanding is so satisfying.
The title may only be understood by those (rare) individuals who have travelled the highlands on horseback and more commonly by those on bicycles.
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on 31 May 2011
Fascinating book, with a lively writing style giving insight not only into those old rocks, but also into scientific disputes and various personalities involved. The author clearly loves the hills, and his science, and is blessed with a mind of his own. So the superficial alarmism about global warming mercifully seems to have left him cold. In fact near the end of his chapter 'Past and future climates in the Highlands' he writes as follows: 'We are now enjoying the best climate in 120,000 years. Be this by man's doing or natural we don't yet know, but it will not last. There is a coming ice age.'
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on 2 August 2016
Good explanations of aspects of Scotland's geology written lucidly for the non-specialist. It does not claim to, and does not attempt to, provide a chronological or complete account of the geology of Scotland, but dips into certain topics which have proved important in the history of the science generally and in understanding of the phenomena, the Highlands being an area where early controversies were played out and many new concepts spawned. The spats between the geological establishment and the mavericks, who often proved to be right, are well recounted, but the generalisations from these about how science advances are dangerously close to asserting that only those who defy the consensus give rise to progress in knowledge. His position on this ties in with his apparent scepticism about climate change (he is by background an oilman and the book is sponsored by an oil company (Cairn Energy)) and his vilification of the wind industry; this goes well beyond the self-evident "in geological terms current climate change is insignificant".

His humorous asides may irritate some; I found some amusing, some annoying.

The author should sack his proof-reader (knappes, acritachs, Malaig); the book is also let down by poor editing (one or two paragraphs just don't make sense), and would benefit from better/larger maps and diagrams. Also the diagrams, mostly sourced from elsewhere, are not properly referenced, and the index is a bit perfunctory.
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on 13 November 2009
Super look at Geology and the history of Geology on Scotland. I can't put it down.

Geology Rocks!!!!!
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on 27 March 2013
The book contains some very interesting ideas but is spoiled by the authors asides about windfarms - he has put me off reading any more of his work by his hysterical ranting.
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