Map That Changed the World: William Smith & the Birth of Modern Geology by Simon Winchester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had two geology classes this summer that were field courses. As I went on them I decided it was probably time to re-read a couple of my favorite historical geology texts: The Map That Changed the World & The Seashell on the Mountaintop. In the end I only had time to listen to the first one. It also happens to be that this book was one of the first nonfiction books I ever listened to on CD because my home library had it on display and the title caught my attention. It is also certainly the first science nonfiction book that I listened to. In fact, without reading the cover, I assumed it would be about cartography or history rather than geology. The geology connection only made it more enjoyable to me.
There was a lot about this story that I had forgotten over time. One thing that jumped out at me was how long William Smith had financially troubles and yet what a short time he actually spent in debtors prison. Part of this confusion came from the book not being totally chronological order. Still it is a great fascinating tale about one man's lifelong obsession to undertake a project that left him financially ruined. Despite his work having such a major impact on the world it is a shame that the man has been nearly forgotten. Fortunately, Simon Winchester has done a great job retelling this man's life story- allowing him to be praised and remembered for his contribution to science and geology.
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