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The Map That Changed the World: A Tale of Rocks, Ruin and Redemption

by Simon Winchester

eBooks of the Month Popular Science

LoveReading View on The Map That Changed the World: A Tale of Rocks, Ruin and Redemption

This was first published in 2001 but I’ve included it here as it is one of the very best books that followed the Longitude method of science writing, homing in on one small step in history, showing how one man’s obsessive quest created the world’s first Geological map in 1815. The man was William Smith, the son of an Oxfordshire blacksmith, and in a story of many twists and seesawing fortunes, Simon Winchester shows how against all odds he surveyed England and created his map, one of the wonders of the age. If you didn’t think you were interested in geology, I guarantee you’ll be fascinated by the whole subject after reading The Map that Changed the World.


Comparison: The Floating Egg: Episodes in the Making of Geology by Roger Osborne

Sue Baker

The Map That Changed the World: A Tale of Rocks, Ruin and Redemption Synopsis

Following the hugely successful hardback, this extraordinary tale of the father of modern geology looks set to be the non fiction paperback for 2002. Hidden behind velvet curtains above a stairway in a house in London's Piccadilly is an enormous and beautiful hand-coloured map - the first geological map of anywhere in the world. Its maker was a farmer's son named William Smith.


Born in 1769 his life was beset by troubles: he was imprisoned for debt, turned out of his home, his work was plagiarised, his wife went insane and the scientific establishment shunned him. It was not until 1829, when a Yorkshire aristocrat recognised his genius that he was returned to London in triumph. The Map That Changed the World is his story.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780140280395
Publication date: 04/07/2002
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780140280395
Publication date: 4th July 2002
Author: Simon Winchester
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Popular Science,
Categories: Biography: historical, political & military, The Earth: natural history general, Cartography, map-making & projections, Historical geography,

About Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester was born and educated in England, has lived in Africa, India and Asia, and now lives in New York.  Having reported from almost everywhere during an award-winning twenty-year career as a Guardian foreign correspondent, he is currently the Asia-Pacific editor for Condé Nast Traveler and contributes to a number of American magazines, as well as to the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and the BBC.   Simon Winchester's books include Outposts: Travels to the Remains of the British Empire; Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles; The Pacific; Pacific Nightmare, a fictional account of the aftermath ...

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