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An Intimate History

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In Earth, the acclaimed author of Trilobite! and Life takes us on a grand tour of the earth’s physical past, showing how the history of plate tectonics is etched in the landscape around us.


Beginning with Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in Roman times helped spark the science of geology, and ending in a lab in the West of England where mathematical models and lab experiments replace direct observation, Richard Fortey tells us what the present says about ancient geologic processes. He shows how plate tectonics came to rule the geophysical landscape and how the evidence is written in the hills and in the stones. And in the process, he takes us on a wonderful journey around the globe to visit some of the most fascinating and intriguing spots on the planet.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 08, 2004 – Though few of the leaf peepers driving through the Smokies this fall will know it, the Appalachians used to extend all the way to Scotland. In this sprawling geological survey, British paleontologist Fortey (Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution) tells readers that millions of years ago, before the land masses broke apart, the Caledonide Mountains formed the northernmost end of an enormous mountain range. Starting in the shadow of Vesuvius, Fortey's global tour moves to the Hawaiian islands, which, he explains, are falling back into the sea from northwest to southeast. Readers trek with him through the Alps and learn how rock folds and stretches. Fortey doesn't restrict himself to current geological time: he says the continents have broken apart and reformed more than once and will likely crunch together again in a few million years; the Pacific Ocean is gradually closing up because the lighter-weight continents are slowly drifting over the underlying basalt. Some readers may wish for more discussion of desert areas, though there is a beautiful account of a descent through Earth's history via burro into the Grand Canyon. Fortey's writing is wonderfully descriptive, but once in a while one wishes he'd kept to his main path and not wandered off into tangential topics. Geology and earth sciences buffs will eat this up. 32 pages of color illus. not seen by PW; 58 b&w illus.
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Earth Sciences
  • Published: Nov 02, 2004
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 480 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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