Biology, History and Philosophy of Science, Reviews

Reconstructing geohistory

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The current issue of Science magazine contains a glowing review of Martin J. S. Rudwick’s latest book, Worlds Before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform. Reviewer Ralph J. O’Conner notes that Worlds Before Adam follows up on Rudwick’s previous book, Bursting the Limits of Time, to cover the second phase (1820-1845) of a revolutionary period in the history of science in which scientists began to make important discoveries that transformed their conception of geological history and redefined human understanding of our place in the natural world. Praising both books for their clarity and insight O’Connor writes:

Like [Bursting the Limits of Time], Worlds Before Adam is the product of painstaking research. It appears dauntingly long but is a delight to read. Rudwick’s style is lucid and engaging throughout, and he is unfailingly courteous to his nonspecialist readers, ensuring that all terms and concepts are fully explained and avoiding unnecessary jargon. The book’s strictly chronological arrangement gives it a strong narrative thrust, and its many beautifully printed illustrations and generous quotations from original sources enhance the sense of primary contact with the evidence.…
In these two graceful and judicious volumes, Rudwick has restored geology to its rightful historical place at the heart of modern scientific culture. More than this, he enables readers to experience geology as a new science. By immersing us in the investigations, reflections, and debates of the time, he lifts us out of our present-day perspective so that we see the objects of geology afresh, through the astonished eyes of those who created it.

Navigate to the Science website to read the review.
Also see all our titles by Martin J. S. Rudwick.