Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology

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Overview

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...

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Overview

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.

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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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Simon Winchester, bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, presents the fascinating story of William Smith, a 19th-century engineer who became the father of modern geology by discovering the various fossil layers under the earth and creating the world's first map of the various strata. Before he could receive any such acclaim, however, he was forced to overcome a landslide of adversity.

Once again, Winchester brings to life an obscure historical figure almost completely forgotten over the years. Smith worked as an engineer at a time when canal growth was booming in England -- experienced men were needed to determine the most practical route each canal should take. As he surveyed, he noticed that the rocks were arranged in layers, each layer containing a unique set of fossils. He quickly realized what this meant: The Earth must be far older than the 4,004 years commonly thought to be true, as taught by the Bible.

For the next 20 years, Smith traveled throughout England, accumulating rocks and fossils -- creating one of the largest collections ever -- while planning the creation of a huge hand-painted map that would show the arrangement of the various layers. In 1815, his map was produced, at great personal expense.

Four years later, he was thrown into debtor's prison, and swindled out of his meager profits. He was deemed too "unpolished and ill-educated" to gain entry into the Geological Society, a snub that devastated him. Worst of all, his carefully and painstakingly created map was then plagiarized by a "gentleman," George Bellas Greenough -- a sitting member of both the House of Commons and the Geological Society, immensely wealthy and powerful.

Smith's struggles to revive his good name and, ultimately, receive the acclaim of his geological peers make for compelling reading -- and another triumph for Simon Winchester. (Nicholas Sinisi)

Nicholas Sinisi is the Barnes and Noble.com History Editor.

Newsday
Winchester masterfully weaves a compelling history.
Denver Post
Smith's unsung life provides the perfect backdrop for yet another entertaining intellectual history.
New York Times Book Review
Winchester brings Smith's struggle to life in clear and beautiful language.
Boston Sunday Herald
A compelling human story.
BusinessWeek
Well-researched narrative.
From The Critics
God created the world and all its creatures during one week in late October 4004 B.C. That, at least, is what the Christian world once accepted with little question. But early in the nineteenth century, a humble surveyor and fossil collector named William Smith pieced together evidence of the considerably greater age of the planet and of the succession of different creatures that had inhabited it. He discovered that the fossil-rich rock under his native England's green hills was stacked in distinct layers, which apparently corresponded to successive eras of geologic time. Based on this, he created a hand-painted stratigraphic map of the British Isles—published in 1815, it was the first of its kind, and it marked the birth of modern geology. Smith's story, told with great sympathy, is—like that of many scientific pioneers—bittersweet. Coming from the working class, Smith earned little reward for his labors—aristocratic rivals stole his ideas; he even did a stint in debtors' prison—and it was only late in life that he got the recognition he deserved. Winchester's affection for Smith, and for the rocks and fossils he loved, is altogether infectious in this fascinating, exceptional book.
—Eric Wargo

Publishers Weekly
As he did in The Professor and the Madman, Winchester chooses an obscure historical character who is inherently fascinating, but whose life and work have also had a strong impact on civilization. Here is William Smith, the orphan son of a village blacksmith, with lots of pluck and little luck until the end of his life when this pioneering first geological cartographer of the world beneath our feet was finally and fully recognized. Smith's life illustrates the interconnectedness of early 19th-century science, the industrial revolution, an intellectual climate that permits a look beyond religious dogma, and the class biases that endlessly impede his finances and fortunes. Published in 1815, Smith's huge and beautiful map of geological strata and the fossils imbedded in them blazed the way for Darwin and the creation-vs.-evolution debates that rage even day. Winchester is a fine stylist who also has a fine, clear reading voice. He fully engages listeners, not only with the excitement of Smith's life and work, but even with geological explications that would have been pretty dull in science class. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
One does not expect a biography of the father of modern geology to be simultaneously engaging, repetitive, stimulating, and snobbish, yet this book is all that. Two-hundred years ago, Smith observed that layers of rock were always organized in a specific order and from this observation developed the modern study of systematic geology. However, the focus of this audio is on a life. Son of a blacksmith (as Winchester repeats ad nauseam), Smith apprenticed to a surveyor and was a well-known geology and water-drainage expert before age 30. His desire for intellectual immortality drove him to create a complete geological map of England, which took him 14 years. His reward was bankruptcy, family disasters, and professional oblivion. Such facts seem relatively straightforward; however, the underlying subtext of the book, the frequently reiterated belief that the English class system is to blame for Smith's problems, is both irritating and problematic. By Winchester's own account, the young Smith was a skilled, scientifically well read, socially accepted professional who gradually evolved into a map-obsessed eccentric. The work is also marred by verbally repetitive foreshadowings and verbose tributes to Smith as a member of the scientific pantheon that includes Darwin, Malthus, etc. With all its flaws, this is charming and should be as popular as the author's previous best seller, The Professor and the Madman. He does a more than competent (in fact, highly professional) job of reading his own words. Recommended for all but the smallest public, academic, and secondary school library. I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
In The Professor and the Madman, Winchester managed to turn the seemingly dull story of the genesis of a dictionary into an international bestseller. His new book is about the equally unglamorous subject of geology, but he explores far more than the scientific classification of rocks. Once again readers are treated to the captivating life story of an obscure, eccentric man who made, against all odds, a big difference. William Smith led the life of a Charles Dickens character, complete with debtor's prison, sinister aristocratic snobs, intellectual "pilferers," a mentally ill wife, and an understudy nephew (even more destitute than himself) who eventually became professor of geology at Oxford. Smith was a self-educated canal digger with a keen eye, limitless perseverance, and an insatiable curiosity about all things under the topsoil. He had ideas about stratification that no one had before, and he turned those ideas into a masterwork: the world's first true geologic map. His work had huge implications in numerous aspects of early 19th-century life, including religion, commerce, agriculture, politics, and science. Winchester's book has a few flaws: repetition, overstatement of his primary themes, several proofreading lapses (especially near the end). But for the most part, it is an engaging, lively story that will capture the interest of many teens, and not only those who maintain rock or fossil collections.-Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A masterful, felicitous tribute to Smith (1769—1839), the extraordinary ordinary Englishman who conceived, researched, and drew the world's first geological map. Winchester (The Professor and the Madman), who studied geology at Oxford, begins at one of the lowest points of Smith's life: August 21, 1819, the day he emerged from King's Bench Debtors' Prison, his life in disarray. It would be a dozen years before he returned to London to receive the honors he had earned for his most lonely and arduous task—constructing a geological map of England and Wales. As Winchester shows, Smith (an autodidact son of a blacksmith) was the most improbable of candidates to become a scientific giant. But he was equipped with a ferocious determination, an insatiable curiosity, an eagerness to muddy his boots and roughen his hands, and—of great importance—a rugged physical constitution that never failed him. He was born into an England whose churches taught (and whose parishioners believed) the Biblical account of a divine, six-day creation. He was also born into a strict class system that inhibited the acceptance of his work (for years he was denied membership in the Geological Society by the perfumed snobs who ran it—and who plagiarized his research). But he lived in a time that hungered for the skills he had mastered: drainage of farmland, construction of canals, and location of minerals. (He even discovered that the famous thermal springs of Bath had cooled because they were blocked by the bone of an ox.) One of his great insights was that fossils were the key to understanding geology: certain fossils exist only in certain strata. He amassed an enormousfossil collection that penury forced him to sell to the British Museum for a mere £500. He spent years traveling the English countryside, mapping the strata he had learned to identify in the coalmines and canals that had dirtied his clothes and enriched his imagination. A fluid, fascinating, emotional story of an unlikely genius who created a science. (60 illustrations)
Boston Sunday Herald
"A compelling human story"
New York Times Book Review
"Winchester brings Smith's struggle to life in clear and beautiful language."
Newsday
“Winchester masterfully weaves a compelling history.”
BusinessWeek
"Well-researched narrative"
Denver Post
“Smith’s unsung life provides the perfect backdrop for yet another entertaining intellectual history.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060931803
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Winchester
Simon Winchester is the author of The Map That Changed the World, The Professor and the Madman, and The Fracture Zone, among many other titles. He lives in Massachusetts and in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Biography

One of the leading practitioners of the offbeat, narrative nonfiction genre The New York Times affectionately calls "cocktail-party science," Simon Winchester studied geology at Oxford, worked on offshore oil rigs, and traveled extensively before settling into a writing career. For twenty years, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the Guardian, augmenting his income by writing articles and well-written but little-read travel books. Then, an obscure footnote in a book he was reading for sheer recreation sparked the idea of a lifetime.

The book in question was Jonathon Green's Chasing the Sun: Dictionary Makers and the Dictionaries They Made, and the footnote read, "Readers will of course be familiar with the story of W.C. Minor, the convicted, deranged, American lunatic murderer, contributor to the OED." Immediately, Winchester knew he had stumbled on a real story, one filled with drama, intrigue, and human interest. Published in 1998, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Oxford English Dictionary was an overnight success, garnering rave reviews on both sides of the pond, and remained on The New York Times hardcover bestseller list for more than a year.

Fueled by curiosity, passion, and a journalist's instinct for what makes "good copy," Winchester has gone on to explore the obscure, arcane, and idiosyncratic in blockbusters like The Map that Changed the World, Krakatoa, and The Man Who Loved China. Coincidentally, his subjects have placed him squarely in the forefront of the new wave of nonfiction so popular at the start of the 21st century. In an interview with Atlantic Monthly, Winchester explained the phenomenon thusly: ""It shows, I think, that there is deep, deep down -- but underserved for a long time -- an eagerness for real stories, real narratives, about rich and interesting things. We -- writers, editors -- just ignored this, by passed this. Now we are tapping into it again."

Good To Know

Winchester once spent three months looking at whirlpools on assignment for Smithsonian magazine.

He once wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times to correct a factual error in an article about where the millennium would first hit land on the morning of Jan. 1, 2000. (It was the island of Tafahi, not the coral atoll Kirabati.)

He reportedly loves the words "butterfly" and "dawn."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York; Massachusetts; Scotland
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 28, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      M.A., St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, 1966
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Escape on the Northbound Stage

The last day of August 1819, a Tuesday, dawned gray, showery, and refreshingly cool in London, promising a welcome end to a weeklong spell of close and muggy weather that seemed to have put all the capital's citizens in a nettlesome, liverish mood.

Anyone trying to hurry along the cobbled and granite-paved streets that day was still certain to be frustrated, despite the improvement in the weather: The crowds! The crush! The dirt! The smell! More than a million people had lately been counted as living within and beyond London's city walls, and each day hundreds more, the morning papers reported, were to be found streaming in from the countryside, bent on joining the new prosperity that all hoped might soon be flowering now that the European wars were over. The city's population was well on the way to doubling itself in less than twenty years. The streets were in consequence filled with a jostling, pullulating, dawdling mass of people. And animals, too: It seemed of little matter to some farmers that there had long been laws to keep them from driving cattle through the center of town - so among the throngs one could spot mangy-looking sheep, more than a few head of cattle, the odd black pig, and of course horses, countless horses, pulling carriages and goods vehicles alike. The stench of their leavings, on a hot week such as this had been, was barely tolerable.

Since it was very early in the morning, there were, of course, fewer crowds than usual. Fewer, that is, except in one or two more notorious spots, where a sad and shabby ritual of the dawn tended to bring out the throngs - and where this story is most appropriately introduced.

The better known of the London sites where the morning masses gathered was in the rabbit warren of lanes that lay near Saint Paul's Cathedral, to the east of where the river Fleet had once run. Halfway along the Fleet Market a passerby would have noted, perhaps with the wry amusement of the metropolitan sophisticate, that crowds had gathered outside a rather noble, high-walled building whose address, according to a written inscription above the tall gateway, was simple: Number Nine.

An onlooker would have been amused because the address was a mere euphemism, the building's real purpose only too well known. The streets to the west of Saint Paul's were one of the two districts of nineteenth-century London where a clutch of the capital's many prisons were concentrated: the Newgate, the Bridewell, the Cold Bath Fields, and the Ludgate jails had all been built nearby, in what in winter were the chill gloom and coal-smoke fogs of the river valley. And Number Nine was the site of the best known of them all, the prince of prisons, the Fleet.

There was another, precisely similar, ghetto of prisons on the south side of the Thames, in the area that, then technically beyond London, was the borough of Southwark: another small huddle of grim, high-walled mansion houses of punishment and restraint - the Clink, the Marshalsea, the Bedlam prison-hospital, and, formidable in appearance and reputation, just like its sister establishment back at Number Nine, the infamous barrackslike monstrosity of the Prison of the King's Bench.

The King's Bench, the nearby Marshalsea, and the Fleet were different from most London prisons. They were very old, for a start, and were privately run according to a set of very strange rituals. They had been instituted for a sole purpose - the holding, for as long as necessary, of men and women who could not or would not pay their bills. These three institutions were debtors' prisons - and the reason that crowds formed around their entrances each sunrise is that, every morning just after dawn, it was the policy of their wardens to free those inmates who had discharged their obligations.

Of the three the Fleet had the most intriguing entranceway. On either side of the gate was a caged window, and above it the motto "Remember the Poor Debtors, Having No Allowance." Through the grate could be seen a small and gloomy chamber, with nothing inside except a wooden bench. A doorway beyond, locked and barred from the outside, gave access to the main cellblock. Each day a new impoverished prisoner would be pushed out into the cage - to spend the next twenty-four hours on begging duty, pleading with passersby for money to help in his or her plight. Debtors were obliged to pay for their time in prison; those who turned out to be totally out of funds were forced to go into the grated room and beg.

The crowds outside the Fleet and the King's Bench prisons on that cool August Tuesday morning, and that so interrupted the progress of men of affairs on their ways along the granite setts with which the road in Southwark and Saint Paul's had recently been paved, were there to see a spectacle. Tourists came to the jails to see the beggars; the merely curious - as well as the small press of family and friends (and perhaps some still-unsatisfied creditors) - came to greet with amiable good cheer the small group of inmates who each day would emerge, blinking, into the morning sunlight.

According to the prison records, one of the half dozen prisoners who stepped free from behind the high walls of the King's Bench Prison on that Tuesday morning was a sturdy-looking yeoman whose papers showed him to have come from Oxfordshire, sixty miles west of London. Those few portraits painted of him in his later years, together with a single silhouette fashioned when he was in his dotage, and a bust sculpted in marble more than twenty years later, show him to be somewhat thickset, balding, with a weatherbeaten face...

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue
1 Escape on the Northbound Stage 1
2 A Land Awakening from Sleep 11
3 The Mystery of the Chedworth Bun 27
4 The Duke and the Baronet's Widow 42
5 A Light in the Underworld 59
6 The Slicing of Somerset 79
7 The View from York Minster 92
8 Notes from the Swan 106
9 The Dictator in the Drawing Room 121
10 The Great Map Conceived 139
11 A Jurassic Interlude 163
12 The Map That Changed in World 192
13 An Ungentlemanly Act 222
14 The Sale of the Century 239
15 The Wrath of Leviathan 251
16 The Lost and Found Man 265
17 All Honor to the Doctor 281
Epilogue 291
Glossary of Geological and Other Unfamiliar Terms Found in This Book 303
Sources and Recommended Reading 311
Acknowledgments 317
Index 321
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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
Ten miles to the south of where I came to write this book stands the cold and windswept farmhouse where George Orwell wrote his appropriately bleak masterpiece, 1984. Ten miles to the north of me is the modest cottage, regularly staked out by reporters from London tabloid newspapers, where Princess Diana's mother has come to live. And so there was a kind of literary logic, my friends imagined, in my choosing to come up to write in a cottage on this small and lonely island off the west coast of Scotland: Pinioned with a fine equidistance between, on the one hand, a memorial to the rigors of classic literature and, on the other, to the more notorious writing practices of Fleet Street, thus might I be inspired, these friends suggested, and have a chance of making a new book that was both lively and lasting, a homage to both ends of the spectrum of our craft.

But in fact my friends were quite wrong. Though on a clear day I can (if I stand on a chair in my study and peer through the dormer) just make out the peninsula on Jura where stands the farmhouse of Barnhill, Orwell's spectral presence had nothing to do with my choosing to come to what the local Post Office insists be properly described as "the Isle of Luing, by Oban, Argyll." I chose this place in part simply for its peace and beauty; but in large measure I chose it -- because I was going to write a book about a geological map -- for its geological associations, not for its literary ones, however powerful and siren-like they might be.

Choosing to come to somewhere in Britain to write about geology made good sense anyway, it seemed to me. The British Isles are unique, so far as I know, in one crucial geological respect. Thanks to a series of lucky accidents over hundreds of millions of years, every single one of the time zones of the earth's history happen to be represented on the ground in Britain, scattered in outcrops of rock across the thousand miles or so that lie between Cornwall and the Shetland Islands. No other country -- not even the giants, like America or Canada or Russia -- can lay claim to possessing everything -- everything from the two-billion-year-old iron-hard rocks of the distant Precambrian right up to the soft formations of later Quaternary, which were laid down as recently as the last Ice Age.

No other country can display fossils of the entire range of life forms, from the single-celled smudges newly precipitated from the primeval oceans, through the most complex forms of the Hollywood-friendly Jurassic, right up to recognizable species that are the obviously immediate antecedents of today's living creatures. It just so happens that the entire array of the earth's ancient history and of life's ancient history is on permanent display on the cliffs and riverbanks and mountainsides of Britain -- making the country the ideal place, symbolically, in which to write a book about the beginnings of this most elemental of sciences. (Some pedants will say there is very little of the era known as the Miocene to be found in Britain, but the Miocene is an age of staggering geological dullness, and so, quite frankly, who cares? There's plenty of it over in Germany, if one insists on wanting to look at it.)

But then why, my friends would ask, if all Britain is so geologically congenial, come all the way up to Scotland? Why suffer the gales and the sea mists and the long winter nights and the clouds of summertime midges? Why not at least settle in a part of Britain that is postcard-lovely, covered with meadows and cattle and churches and villages? Why not be comfortable where you write?

Well, it is precisely the covering of loveliness -- a covering that renders all the underlying rocks invisible, swathed in their pretty countryside -- that is the problem. Up in western Scotland there is none of this softening, nothing to hide the realms that lie below. In Scotland the rocks are all there, exposed to the sky, rough and ready, rubbed bare and raw -- the pure geology of the nation is in full view, all the time. When I was at university nearly all of our field trips came to Scotland -- to Arran, to Mull, to Ardnamurchan, to Skye -- and we were taken there precisely because the rocks there were so visible, all ready to be examined, gazed at, hammered, understood.

And so I decided I would come to write this book about an unknown and unsung man on the equally unknown and unsung Isle of Luing, by Oban, Argyll. I now have rocks of all kinds, fossils of all kinds, eternally on view out of my windows. I gaze at gneiss, I breakfast looking at sandstone, I take tea looking at cliffs of ancient slate, I dine by granite. Geology surrounds me: The world is here stripped bare, a constant reminder, a marinade, of what I'm writing about. And if the distant influences of George Orwell and Fleet Street are in the air and in the mix as well, so be it. Rocks, literature, and journalism: For this one book and for much else besides, the perfect combination, the perfect place. (Simon Winchester)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2005

    Outstanding and highly recommended

    During my stay in an American hospital I was given this wonderful book to read by my sister. That was 4 years ago and I have never forgotten the inspiring but tragic circumstance of this story. So today I've purchased it as a Christmas present for my girlfriends 16 year old son. I hope he finds it as interesting and compelling as I did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 16, 2009

    Riveting for intelligent historic alternative reading

    This has an HG Wells feel to its documentary narrative, and gives an enormous insight not only to geography, but how this shaped thinking at the time. Definitely not for creationists who think the world spun into existence 6000 years ago.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2008

    Unconvincing

    Book jacket blurbs 'about how original, astounding, and earth-shattering Smith's work was' keep intruding into the early pages of this book. The book tells how Smith collected and organized a prodigious amount of information that showed how field geology ought to be done - and uncovered what lay beneath the soil of England. But he was not a great theoretician and not very interested in the implications for how the earth was formed or how old it was. The books Smith bought in London, described in this book, demonstrate that Smith did not break new ground so much as he assembled information that confirmed or refuted earlier thinking. Smith's struggles to have his contributions recognized make a good story but the author fails to make a convincing case that Smith is as important to the progress of science as the author says he is.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    Please excuse....

    I thought that this book did a good job telling the biography of a man who made a profound impact on the geological world, but by no means did he INVENT geology. And yes, Edmond Halley was a very important man in terms of scientific discovery, but he was an astronomer, not a geologist. Charles Lyell is referred to as the 'father of modern geology,' not Halley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2004

    Quick, great read

    I found this book enjoyable and easy to read. Tells the history of Geology and the struggle of the man who invented it in an England where only the 'elite' get credit for their ideas. Written simply but fun to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2003

    This work completly ingnores Edmond Halley

    Edmond Halley, the second Royal Astronomer, in the 1600's wrote that the earth was over a million years old, based on similar evedence. In geological text he is often refered to the 'the father of modern geology'. The 'Church' burned a man in the 15th century for stating that the earth was more like 40,000 years old. So to say that Smith was the first to question the Bible is incorrect.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2003

    Not his best book.

    This is a fine enough book if you want to read about the life of William Smith. Beyond that, it is a bit of an over-extended work on an obscure aspect of 19th century natural science. Everything you could possibly want to know could be encapsulated in 50 pages. The rest is merely diversion and filler. It seemed to be Winchester's personal crusade to illuminate the career and map of Smith. Winchester's prose, contrary to other opinions here, is actually quite pleasing and if anything, shines when compared to the pale limitations of standard American non-fiction writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2003

    Great book.

    This is a wonderful book. I enjoyed it for the simple lessons in geology, the view of the social structure of late 18th and early 19th century England, the story of William Smith and the personal recollections of the author. All good books have something in common; they may entertain, they may instruct, they may make the reader want to learn more or they may make us see things differently. 'The Map That Changed the World' was entertaining, instructful and made the reader want to learn more. It's a book that gave me the feeling I get when going through the catalog or the stacks of a university library--the joy of surprise.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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