Catalogue


Worlds before Adam : the reconstruction of geohistory in the age of reform /
Martin J.S. Rudwick.
imprint
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, c2008.
description
xxii, 614 p. : ill.
ISBN
0226731286 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780226731285 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, c2008.
isbn
0226731286 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780226731285 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6440628
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, USA, 2008 : Nominated
PSP Prose Awards, USA, 2008 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-12-01:
Intended as a sequel to the author's earlier work Bursting the Limits of Time (CH, Sep'06, 44-0326), this book is simply the most comprehensive and best written account of the development of historical geology. Together, they detail and interpret what Rudwick (Cambridge) rightly terms "a revolution in human thought" in the 18th and 19th centuries through which the history of Earth and life was discovered to be so vast that humanity's place in time was reduced to mere moments. The story begins with the great naturalist Georges Cuvier and his analyses of fossil bones and shells, and the growing realization that past life was very different from the present, and that there is a complex but distinct pattern to the distribution of fossils in the rock record. A discussion of Charles Lyell's extraordinary work in developing the practical and theoretical aspects of what is seen today in modern historical geology dominates the middle and end of the volume. Rudwick adds a "concluding (un)scientific postscript," in which he places this history in a social and cultural context through a strong defense of the transcending qualities of "the republic of letters." This book (and its predecessor) is valuable for all academic and professional libraries. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and up. M. A. Wilson College of Wooster
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Worlds Before Adam is rich and thought-provoking."-Brenda Maddox, Literary Review
" Worlds Before Adam is rich and thought-provoking."Brenda Maddox, Literary Review
" Worlds Before Adam is rich and thought-provoking."
" Worlds before Adam is at once an important synthesis, a brilliant essay which bestows an immense scholarship upon an original and well-carried argument, and an elegantly written and composed book as pleasant to read as a novel. It will also stand as a reference book, easy to consult by anyone professionally or personally interested in geology and palaeontology and their historical and epistemological implications."
"Worlds before Adamis at once an important synthesis, a brilliant essay which bestows an immense scholarship upon an original and well-carried argument, and an elegantly written and composed book as pleasant to read as a novel. It will also stand as a reference book, easy to consult by anyone professionally or personally interested in geology and palaeontology and their historical and epistemological implications."
" Worlds before Adam is at once an important synthesis, a brilliant essay which bestows an immense scholarship upon an original and well-carried argument, and an elegantly written and composed book as pleasant to read as a novel. It will also stand as a reference book, easy to consult by anyone professionally or personally interested in geology and palaeontology and their historical and epistemological implications."Claudine Cohen, British Journal for the History of Science
"We take for granted that Earth has a deep history divided into eras such as the Mesozoic, with its monstrous dinosaurs and catastrophic meteoroid impacts. But when and how was this geohistorical narrative established? This book, the sequel to Bursting the Limits of Time , is a masterly exploration of the nineteenth-century roots of this particular scientific revolution. Here Rudwick shows how scientists such as Georges Cuvier, William Buckland and Charles Lyell first revealed and then reconstructed a narrative for the Earth based on direct observation of rocks and fossils."Douglas Palmer, New Scientist
"We take for granted that Earth has a deep history divided into eras such as the Mesozoic, with its monstrous dinosaurs and catastrophic meteoroid impacts. But when and how was this geohistorical narrative established? This book, the sequel to Bursting the Limits of Time, is a masterly exploration of the nineteenth-century roots of this particular scientific revolution. Here Rudwick shows how scientists such as Georges Cuvier, William Buckland and Charles Lyell first revealed and then reconstructed a narrative for the Earth based on direct observation of rocks and fossils."-Douglas Palmer, New Scientist
"Rudwick''s masterful volume provides a detailed account of the contrasting fortunes of fluvialists and diluvialists, uniformitarians and catastrophists, while also affording valuable insights into the nature of scientific thought; the roles of communication, travel, and fieldwork in the making of knowledge; and the importance of culture and religion in conditioning the reception ansd repudiation of scientific ideas. . . . An erudite and insightful sequel."
"We take for granted that Earth has a deep history divided into eras such as the Mesozoic, with its monstrous dinosaurs and catastrophic meteoroid impacts. But when and how was this geohistorical narrative established? This book, the sequel to Bursting the Limits of Time (2005), is a masterly exploration of the 19th-century roots of this particular scientific revolution. Here Rudwick shows how scientists such as Georges Cuvier, William Buckland and Charles Lyell first revealed and then reconstructed a narrative for the Earth based on direct observation of rocks and fossils."-Douglas Palmer, New Scientist
"We take for granted that Earth has a deep history divided into eras such as the Mesozoic, with its monstrous dinosaurs and catastrophic meteoroid impacts. But when and how was this geohistorical narrative established? This book, the sequel to Bursting the Limits of Time , is a masterly exploration of the nineteenth-century roots of this particular scientific revolution. Here Rudwick shows how scientists such as Georges Cuvier, William Buckland and Charles Lyell first revealed and then reconstructed a narrative for the Earth based on direct observation of rocks and fossils."
"Rudwick's books are myth-busters. . . . Rudwick highlights an underappreciated, glorious advance in human thought, the documentation of which is a rather glorious achievement itself."
"Rudwick''s books are myth-busters. . . . Rudwick highlights an underappreciated, glorious advance in human thought, the documentation of which is a rather glorious achievement itself."-Victor R. Baker, Nature
"Rudwick''s books are myth-busters. . . . Rudwick highlights an underappreciated, glorious advance in human thought, the documentation of which is a rather glorious achievement itself."Victor R. Baker, Nature
"Rudwick's masterful volume provides a detailed account of the contrasting fortunes of fluvialists and diluvialists, uniformitarians and catastrophists, while also affording valuable insights into the nature of scientific thought; the roles of communication, travel, and fieldwork in the making of knowledge; and the importance of culture and religion in conditioning the reception and repudiation of scientific ideas. . . . An erudite and insightful sequel."
"Rudwick''s masterful volume provides a detailed account of the contrasting fortunes of fluvialists and diluvialists, uniformitarians and catastrophists, while also affording valuable insights into the nature of scientific thought; the roles of communication, travel, and fieldwork in the making of knowledge; and the importance of culture and religion in conditioning the reception and repudiation of scientific ideas. . . . An erudite and insightful sequel."-Innes M. Keighren, H-Net Reviews
"Rudwick''s masterful volume provides a detailed account of the contrasting fortunes of fluvialists and diluvialists, uniformitarians and catastrophists, while also affording valuable insights into the nature of scientific thought; the roles of communication, travel, and fieldwork in the making of knowledge; and the importance of culture and religion in conditioning the reception and repudiation of scientific ideas. . . . An erudite and insightful sequel."Innes M. Keighren, H-Net Reviews
"Rudwick's account follows on from his magisterial Bursting the Limits of Time , which painted an unrivalled portrait of geology's first days as a tardy arrival to the high table of respectable sciences. . . . Rudwick's book is a culmination of forty years of research into the history of geology, and seals his reputation as the doyen of the subject. His writing is always clear, often entertaining, unrelentingly scholarly, and, appropriately enough for geology, he leaves no stone unturned. . . . Any reader interested in the development of the concept of geological time should read Martin Rudwick's bookone could argue that the awareness of deep time has changed human perception of our place in the cosmos more than any other discovery. "Richard A. Fortey, Times Literary Supplement
"Rudwick's account follows on from his magisterial Bursting the Limits of Time, which painted an unrivalled portrait of geology's first days as a tardy arrival to the high table of respectable sciences....Rudwick's book is a culmination of forty years of research into the history of geology, and seals his reputation as the doyen of the subject. His writing is always clear, often entertaining, unrelentingly scholarly, and, appropriately enough for geology, he leaves no stone unturned....Any reader interested in the development of the concept of geological time should read Martin Rudwick's book - one could argue that the awareness of deep time has changed human perception of our place in the cosmos more than any other discovery. "-Richard A. Fortey, Times Literary Supplement
"Magisterial...A thoroughly engaging and utterly sympathetic treatment of the notable figures who laid the foundation for modern geology in the period between 1820 and 1845, their inspirations and intellectual triumphs, and their stubbornly held misconceptions....With their highly individualistic flair and immense erudition, this volume and its predecessor are not just essential reading for any scientist; they are also landmark volumes in the history of ideas and a brilliant scholarly achievement."
"Magisterial...A thoroughly engaging and utterly sympathetic treatment of the notable figures who laid the foundation for modern geology in the period between 1820 and 1845, their inspirations and intellectual triumphs, and their stubbornly held misconceptions....With their highly individualistic flair and immense erudition, this volume and its predecessor are not just essential reading for any scientist; they are also landmark volumes in the history of ideas and a brilliant scholarly achievement."-Keith Thomson, Times Higher Education
"Magisterial...A thoroughly engaging and utterly sympathetic treatment of the notable figures who laid the foundation for modern geology in the period between 1820 and 1845, their inspirations and intellectual triumphs, and their stubbornly held misconceptions....With their highly individualistic flair and immense erudition, this volume and its predecessor are not just essential reading for any scientist; they are also landmark volumes in the history of ideas and a brilliant scholarly achievement."Keith Thomson, Times Higher Education
"Like its predecessor, 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, the culmination of a distinguished career, Rudwick has restored geology to its rightful historical place at the heart of modern scientific culture."Ralph O''Connor, Science
"Despite its length and the complexity of its subject, the book is wonderfully easy to read. Rudwick has a rare gift for talking neither down to nor over the head of the non-specialist reader: no prior knowledge of geology or its history is required and readers in a hurry will appreciate the clear summaries of 'the story so far' with which each of the thirty-six short and snappy chapters concludes. The story retains its fascination right up to the last page."Ralph O''Connor, History Today
"Like its predecessor, 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, the culmination of a distinguished career, Rudwick has restored geology to its rightful historical place at the heart of modern scientific culture."-Ralph O''Connor, Science
"Despite its length and the complexity of its subject, the book is wonderfully easy to read. Rudwick has a rare gift for talking neither down to nor over the head of the non-specialist reader: no prior knowledge of geology or its history is required and readers in a hurry will appreciate the clear summaries of 'the story so far' with which each of the thirty-six short and snappy chapters concludes. The story retains its fascination right up to the last page."
"Despite its length and the complexity of its subject, the book is wonderfully easy to read. Rudwick has a rare gift for talking neither down to nor over the head of the non-specialist reader: no prior knowledge of geology or its history is required and readers in a hurry will appreciate the clear summaries of 'the story so far' with which each of the thirty-six short and snappy chapters concludes. The story retains its fascination right up to the last page."-Ralph O''Connor, History Today
" Both [Rudwick''s] books, indeed, read like Dickens novels; take time to read them at leisure and they will enrich your life. . . . For those who have read Bursting the Limits of Time, Worlds Before Adam probably needs no recommendation, since it maintains the same high standards. For those who haven't, Worlds Before Adam might whet their appetite to read Bursting the Limits of Time. I hope this latest book will also attract the attention of many people from outside the Earth sciences, who thus can become aware of the fascination of geological discoveries." -Cor F. Winkler Prins, Geological Journal
" Both [Rudwick''s] books, indeed, read like Dickens novels; take time to read them at leisure and they will enrich your life. . . . For those who have read Bursting the Limits of Time , Worlds Before Adam probably needs no recommendation, since it maintains the same high standards. For those who haven't, Worlds Before Adam might whet their appetite to read Bursting the Limits of Time . I hope this latest book will also attract the attention of many people from outside the Earth sciences, who thus can become aware of the fascination of geological discoveries." Cor F. Winkler Prins, Geological Journal
"A work of such excellence as to recommend it to anyone."
"Any student of paleontology or geology will need this book, if he or she is at all interested in the history of the science. . . . Rudwick has captuired the essence of the Age of Enlightenment, and the reader is left with a sense of the age in which these scientists were working, their difficulties, and the immensity of their discoveries."
"An ultimate source of knowledge on the histor
"An ultimate source of knowledge on the history of geoscience in the early XIX century. . . . This book looks as classical as those old works by Buckland or Lyell discussed in its text. The reviewer recommends Rudwick's book for everyone in geology and palaeontology."
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2008
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Summaries
Main Description
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, scientists reconstructed the immensely long history of the earthand the relatively recent arrival of human life. The geologists of the period, many of whom were devout believers, agreed about this vast timescale. But despite this apparent harmony between geology and Genesis, these scientists still debated a great many questions: Had the earth cooled from its origin as a fiery ball in space, or had it always been the same kind of place as it is now? Was prehuman life marked by mass extinctions, or had fauna and flora changed slowly over time? The first detailed account of the reconstruction of prehuman geohistory, Martin J. S. Rudwick's Worlds Before Adam picks up where his celebrated Bursting the Limits of Time leaves off. Here, Rudwick takes readers from the post-Napoleonic Restoration in Europe to the early years of Britain's Victorian age, chronicling the staggering discoveries geologists made during the period: the unearthing of the first dinosaur fossils, the glacial theory of the last ice age, and the meaning of igneous rocks, among others. Ultimately, Rudwick reveals geology to be the first of the sciences to investigate the historical dimension of nature, a model that Charles Darwin used in developing his evolutionary theory. Featuring an international cast of colorful characters, with Georges Cuvier and Charles Lyell playing major roles and Darwin appearing as a young geologist, Worlds Before Adam is a worthy successor to Rudwick's magisterial first volume. Completing the highly readable narrative of one of the most momentous changes in human understanding of our place in the natural world, Worlds Before Adam is a capstone to the career of one of the world's leading historians of science.
Bowker Data Service Summary
In this account of the reconstruction of prehuman geohistory, Rudwick takes readers from the post-Napoleonic Restoration in Europe to the early years of Britain's Victorian age, chronicling the staggering discoveries made during the period, and the efforts made to fit them into an understanding of the world.
Main Description
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, scientists reconstructed the immensely long history of the earthand the relatively recent arrival of human life. The geologists of the period, many of whom were devout believers, agreed about this vast timescale. But despite this apparent harmony between geology and Genesis, these scientists still debated a great many questions: Had the earth cooled from its origin as a fiery ball in space, or had it always been the same kind of place as it is now? Was prehuman life marked by mass extinctions, or had fauna and flora changed slowly over time? The first detailed account of the reconstruction of prehuman geohistory, Martin J. S. Rudwick'sWorlds Before Adampicks up where his celebratedBursting the Limits of Timeleaves off. Here, Rudwick takes readers from the post-Napoleonic Restoration in Europe to the early years of Britain's Victorian age, chronicling the staggering discoveries geologists made during the period: the unearthing of the first dinosaur fossils, the glacial theory of the last ice age, and the meaning of igneous rocks, among others. Ultimately, Rudwick reveals geology to be the first of the sciences to investigate the historical dimension of nature, a model that Charles Darwin used in developing his evolutionary theory. Featuring an international cast of colorful characters, with Georges Cuvier and Charles Lyell playing major roles and Darwin appearing as a young geologist,Worlds Before Adamis a worthy successor to Rudwick's magisterial first volume. Completing the highly readable narrative of one of the most momentous changes in human understanding of our place in the natural world,Worlds Before Adamis a capstone to the career of one of the world's leading historians of science.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Acknowledgments
A note on footnotes, references, and quotations
Introduction
Cuvier's model for geohistory(1817–25) §
Cuvier'sFossil Bones--§
TheFossil Bonesrevised--§
Cuvier's secular resurrection--§
Conclusion
Monsters from deep time(1819–24) §
The strange ichthyosaur--§
The Geological Society--§
Conybeare's plesiosaur--§
Conclusion
The new stratigraphy(1817–25) §
The practice of geognosy--§
"Conybeare and Phillips"--§
The stratigraphy of Europe--§
Conclusion
Outlines of life's history(1818–27) §
"Paleontology" defined--§
Life's own history--§
The life of ancient seas--§
Ancient plant life--§
Conclusion
Ancient monsters on land(1818–25) §
Buckland's megalosaur--§
Mantell's giant herbivore--§
Wealden stratigraphy--§
Mantell's iguanodon--§
The Stonesfield marsupials--§
Conclusion
Geological deluge and biblical Flood(1819–24) §
Buckland's "hyaena story" at Kirkdale--§
Buckland's new "diluvial" evidence--§
"Relics of the deluge"--§
Critics of the deluge--§
Conclusion
The role of actual causes(1818–24) §
The adequacy of actual causes--§
Von Hoff and Nature's "statistics"--§
Etna: Europe's greatest volcano--§
Actual causes and global exploration--§
Conclusion
The dynamic earth(1818–24) §
Crustal elevation--§
The "Temple of Serapis"-- §
Von Buch and the origin of mountain ranges--§
Conclusion
The engine of geohistory(1824–29) §
Brongniart's global stratigraphy--§
Fourier's physics of a cooling earth--§
Scrope's directional geotheory--§
Élie de Beaumont's sequence of revolutions--§
Conclusion
The Tertiary gateway(1824–27) §
The adequacy of actual causes--§
Interpreting the Tertiary world--§
Prévost's reinterpretation of the Paris Basin--§
Conclusion
The geologists' time-machine(1825–31) §
Fossil land surfaces and soils--§
Buckland and the footprints of monsters--§
First scenes from deep time--§
Conclusion
A directional history of life(1825–31) §
Tertiary geohistory--§
Adolphe Brongniart: plant life on a cooling earth--§
Tropics in the Arctic?--§
Conclusion
The last revolution(1824–30) §
Alluvium and diluvium--§
Alpine erratic blocks--§
Erratic blocks in Scandinavia--§
Esmark's glacial conjecture--§
Conclusion
The last mass extinction(1826–31) §
Bone caves for Buckland--§
Buckland's worldwide antediluvial fossils--§
Fleming and the course of extinction--§
Lyell the budding synthesizer--§
Conclusion
The centrality of central France(1826–28) §
Scrope's "Time!--Time!--Time!"--§
Faunas and volcanoes in Auvergne
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