The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
In 1793, a canal digger named William Smith made a startling discovery. He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell -- clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world -- making... show more
In 1793, a canal digger named William Smith made a startling discovery. He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell -- clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world -- making it possible, for the first time ever, to draw a chart of the hidden underside of the earth. Determined to expose what he realized was the landscape's secret fourth dimension, Smith spent twenty-two years piecing together the fragments of this unseen universe to create an epochal and remarkably beautiful hand-painted map. But instead of receiving accolades and honors, he ended up in debtors' prison, the victim of plagiarism, and virtually homeless for ten years more. Finally, in 1831, this quiet genius -- now known as the father of modern geology -- received the Geological Society of London's highest award and King William IV offered him a lifetime pension.The Map That Changed the World is a very human tale of endurance and achievement, of one man's dedication in the face of ruin. With a keen eye and thoughtful detail, Simon Winchester unfolds the poignant sacrifice behind this world-changing discovery.
Publish date: August 1st 2002
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages no: 352
Edition language: English
, European Literature
, British Literature
, Popular Science
, History Of Science
MAP is 3/5 because half of it is geology and most people are not fascinated by geology. so, it's a weaker Winchester book although apparently the crowd disagrees and rates it 3rd in overall popularity. in fact, according to GR, it's half as popular as Krakatoa and twice or even four times the Winche...
Not as good as The Professor and the Madman, IMHO - some portions seemed oddly disjointed with regard to chronology, and some information was duplicated in later sections in almost the same words. An interesting story for the most part, about another one of those "hidden heroes" of the Age of Enlig...
A great book with 2 interesting stories, how William Smith almost single handed figured out the geology of England and also a more important and damning one about how class fixations in mid 19th century England conspired against talented and gifted individuals. Hmmm not much has changed.
Leave it to Winchester to take a seemingly boring subject and give it life.
I adore Simon, and enjoy his books, but he's so much more engaging live than he is on paper. This book reminded me of several people's characterization of male British dating habits; they tend to hang around quite a bit without making a move before even attempting to mention that they'd be happy to...