The Map that Changed the World – William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, by Simon Winchester. HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York, 2001, 329 pages, 32 illustrations plus frontispiece and 2 coloured page-size maps. Cost: C$39.50 hardcover /C$ 22, trade paperback.

This book is both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating, because it puts a human face on a pioneer geologist most of us know only from one or two cryptic sentences in elementary text books: “William Smith, an English surveyor and canal-builder constructed the first geological map of Britain.” Frustrating, because the book is not an “easy read” and...

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