From the author of the bestselling The Professor and the Madman comes the fascinating story of the father of modern geology In 1793, William Smith, the orphan son of a village blacksmith, made a startling discovery that was to turn the science of geology on its head. While surveying the route for a canal near Bath, he noticed that the fossils found in one layer of the rocks he was excavating were very different from those found in another. And out of that realization came an epiphany: that by following these fossils one could trace layers of rocks as they dipped, rose and fell-clear across England and clear across the world. Obsessed with creating a map that would showcase his discovery, Smith spent the next twenty years traveling England alone, studying rock outcroppings and gathering information. In 1815 he published a hand-painted map more than eight feet tall and six feet wide. But four years later, swindled out of his profits, Smith ended up in debtors' prison. His wife went mad. He lived as a homeless man for ten long years. Eventually a kindly aristocrat discovered him; Smith, the quiet genius and 'father of geology' was brought back to London and showered with the honors that he rightly deserved. Here now is his astounding story.
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by Simon Winchester
by Simon Ings
"Written by the author of the bestselling PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, this is the involving story of William Smith, orphaned son of an English village blacksmith, who single-handedly established the foundation of modern geology. Smith was born in 1769, received only a rudimentary education, and for most of his life was rejected by the establishment of scientists and well-born amateur geologists. Yet he was the first recipient of the Wollaston Medal, the most prestigious award in geology. Englishman Simon Winchester is a trained geologist, who obviously brings expertise to both story and reading. Listening is akin to hearing an articulate scientist reading a paper to a lay audience. It's an authoritative delivery and an enjoyable experience. R.E.K. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine"
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