The face of the earth, crisscrossed by chains of mountains like the scars of old wounds, has changed and changed again over billions of years, and the testament of the remote past is all around us. In this book Richard Fortey teaches us how to read its character, laying out the dominions of the world before us. He shows how human culture and natural history–even the shape of cities–are rooted in this deep geological past.
In search of this past, Fortey takes us through the Alps, into Icelandic hot springs, down to the ocean floor, over the barren rocks of Newfoundland, into the lush ecosystems of Hawai’i, across the salt flats of Oman, and along the San Andreas Fault. On the slopes of Vesuvius, he tracks the history of the region down through the centuries to volcanic eruptions seen by fifteenth-century Italians, the Romans, and, from striking geological evidence, even Neolithic man. As story adds to story, the recent past connects with forgotten ages long ago, then much longer ago, as he describes the movement of plates and the development of ancient continents and seas. Nothing in this book is at rest. The surface of the earth dilates and collapses; seas and mountains rise and fall; continents move.
Fortey again proves himself the ideal guide, with his superb descriptions of natural beauty, his gripping narratives, and his crystal-clear, always fascinating scientific explanations. Here is a book to change the way we see the world.