Category: Biographies / General
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 4 July 2002
Number of pages: 352
Following the hugely successful hardback, this extraordinary tale of the father of modern geology looks set to be the non fiction paperback for 2002. Hidden behind velvet curtains above a stairway in a house in London's Piccadilly is an enormous and beautiful hand-coloured map - the first geological map of anywhere in the world. Its maker was a farmer's son named William Smith. Born in 1769 his life was beset by troubles: he was imprisoned for debt, turned out of his home, his work was plagiarised, his wife went insane and the scientific establishment shunned him. It was not until 1829, when a Yorkshire aristocrat recognised his genius that he was returned to London in triumph. "The Map That Changed the World" is his story.
How could a map published as late as 1815 have 'changed the world'? Simon Winchester's fascinating book tells the story of William Smith and his literally ground-breaking researches into the stratification of rocks beneath the surfaces of the British Isles, which culminated in the production of a gigantic map which was to have tremendous repercussions for mining and other industries - as well as for science and even religion. Part biography of a self-made man (born the son of a blacksmith), part chapter in the history of the industrial revolution and part story of crucial developments in the new science of geology, Winchester's book also shows how that geology fed into the work of Darwin and others - by definitively revising Biblical accounts of the age of the Earth. It's one of those highly readable non-fiction accounts which cleverly transcends its apparently narrow focus. And it is likely to be as successful as the author's much-acclaimed The Surgeon of Crowthorne.
What the papers say:
"Winchester masterfully weaves a compelling history."--Newsday
Simon Winchester is an award-winning journalist who now lives in New York. Having reported from all over the world during his 20-year career as a Guardian foreign correspondent, he has also written 13 books, including the highly acclaimed international bestseller The Surgeon of Crowthorne.
In Stock: 11 copies