The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester
William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology

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Synopsis

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. 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.

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.

 

About Simon Winchester

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Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Professor and the Madman, Atlantic, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa. In 2006, he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Now an American citizen, he resides in western Massachusetts.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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(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.

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The New York Times

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The publisher of ''The Map That Changed the World'' pays tribute to Smith in the ingenious dust jacket of this book, which unfolds to form a striking reproduction of Smith's map.

Aug 05 2001 | Read Full Review of The Map That Changed the Worl...

The Guardian

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The Map that Changed the World Simon Winchester 352pp, Viking, £12.99 Geology can be an inspirational subject.

Jul 07 2001 | Read Full Review of The Map That Changed the Worl...

The Guardian

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The Map that Changed the World Simon Winchester Viking £12.99, pp352 Geology has all the best words.

Jul 08 2001 | Read Full Review of The Map That Changed the Worl...

Publishers Weekly

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Winchester, whose previous effort was the bestseller The Professor and the Madman, tells the remarkable story of William Smith, whose geologically correct map of England and Wales, dated 1815, became the bedrock for the modern science of geology.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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London Review of Books

Even today, in physiology laboratories, the brain is being anatomised in terms of the cortical areas responsible for one piece of sensory integration or another: a subtle mapping that has replaced centuries of speculation – a kind of objective phrenology.

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