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The Map that Changed the World

by Simon Winchester
New York: Harper Perennial, 2002. 352 pages.

In The Map that Changed the World, Simon Winchester tells the practically Dickensian story of William Smith and his struggle to create what was arguably the first true geological map. Winchester writes, "Geology, it seems almost redundant to say, underlies and underpins everything: the site of every city, every gold mine, every field, every island is determined purely by geology — and humanity's condition is more directly influenced by geology than by any other aspect of the natural world. But until William Smith we could only surmise what that geology was, and what it would and could be elsewhere. We had no map."