The history of geology has become popular over the last few years with a number of books for the general reader on the usual ‘hot’ topics which can be more or less guaranteed to sell, i.e. anything to do with dinosaurs and as the Harrison/Sobell effect moves into other areas of the history of science such as in the curious case of William Smith, the so-called ‘father of English geology’. Smith’s biography has been ‘crying out’ to be written for decades but somehow never quite managed to appear – and then suddenly there were two on the market, one of...

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