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The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology - Simon Winchester, Soun Vannithone
The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
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3.00 5
From the author of the bestselling The Professor and the Madman comes the fascinating story of William Smith, the orphaned son of an English country blacksmith, who became obsessed with creating the world's first geological map and ultimately became the father of modern geology.In 1793 William... show more
From the author of the bestselling The Professor and the Madman comes the fascinating story of William Smith, the orphaned son of an English country blacksmith, who became obsessed with creating the world's first geological map and ultimately became the father of modern geology.In 1793 William Smith, a canal digger, made a startling discovery that was to turn the fledgling science of the history of the earth -- and a central plank of established Christian religion -- on its head. He noticed that the rocks he was excavating were arranged in layers; more important, he could see quite clearly that the fossils found in one layer were very different from those found in another. And out of that realization came an epiphany: that by following the fossils, one could trace layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell -- clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world. Determined to publish his profoundly important discovery by creating a map that would display the hidden underside of England, he spent twenty years traveling the length and breadth of the kingdom by stagecoach and on foot, studying rock outcrops and fossils, piecing together the image of this unseen universe.In 1815 he published his epochal and remarkably beautiful hand-painted map, more than eight feet tall and six feet wide. But four years after its triumphant publication, and with his young wife going steadily mad to the point of nymphomania, Smith ended up in debtors' prison, a victim of plagiarism, swindled out of his recognition and his profits. He left London for the north of England and remained homeless for ten long years as he searched for work. It wasn't until 1831, when his employer, a sympathetic nobleman, brought him into contact with the Geological Society of London -- which had earlier denied him a fellowship -- that at last this quiet genius was showered with the honors long overdue him. He was summoned south to receive the society's highest award, and King William IV offered him a lifetime pension.The Map That Changed the World is, at its foundation, a very human tale of endurance and achievement, of one man's dedication in the face of ruin and homelessness. The world's coal and oil industry, its gold mining, its highway systems, and its railroad routes were all derived entirely from the creation of Smith's first map.; and with a keen eye and thoughtful detail, Simon Winchester unfolds the poignant sacrifice behind this world-changing discovery.
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Format: hardcover
ISBN: 9780060193614 (0060193611)
Publisher: Harper
Pages no: 329
Edition language: English
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Community Reviews
nouveau
nouveau rated it
3.0 The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
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...
All the Time in the World
All the Time in the World rated it
3.0 The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
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...
llanito
llanito rated it
3.0 The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
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.
Not Quite Home
Not Quite Home rated it
4.0 The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
Leave it to Winchester to take a seemingly boring subject and give it life.
Ms. Margie
Ms. Margie rated it
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...
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