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Rock & GemWith its limitless combinations of bright colors and intricate patterns, agate is one of the most intriguing and widely collected of all forms of quartz. Thanks to its popularity and beauty, agate is the subject of a plethora of books ranging from simple primers and collecting guides to the most detailed, technical treatises of the theories of agate formation. And in terms of its comprehensive content, readability, organization, and superb color photography, Karen A. Brzys' Agates: Inside Out, just released in 2010, is among the best.
Brzys, who owns and curates the Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum in Grand Marais, Michigan, begins by defining quartz itself and emphasizing the differences between the macrocrystalline and microcrystalline varieties. She then guides readers through the fascinating world of agates, explaining everything from the inflow and silica-gel theories of agate formation to the origin of agate's complex banding patterns, channel structures, and array of delightful colors.
After describing the 31 major types of agate, from botryoidal, brecciated and cloud to the shadow, tube, and water-level subvarieties, the author includes an informative and helpful chapter on agate hunting that will inspire any reader to plan a field trip. Brzys ends the book with a detailed listing of notable agate-collecting localities in fourteen American states and eight foreign countries.
Agates: Inside Out will appeal to both beginners and experts. For beginners, this book provides a solid foundation for further studies into agate, while experts will find it valuable for its stunning photographs.
The 248-page, 6-inch by 9-inch, softcover book includes 240 color photographs, 20 explanatory diagrams, footnotes, references, and an index.--(Steve Voynick, September 2010)