qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Book Review: Principles of Geology, by Charles Lyell, edited by James A Secord
Somewhat inspired by Bill Bailey's recent programmes on Alfred Russell Wallace (which I've recorded but haven't yet viewed), I wasn't sure what to expect of this one; perhaps that is the best way to approach things. Unfortunately the introduction projected the editor's views quite strongly, presumably to assist student reading of the abridged text. Apparently, a little more than a third of the original text is presented here; fortunately it's quite clearly stated where passages and chapters are missing and it's summarised as you go. Perhaps, rather than focus on the literary merits or otherwise, I should note what I found more interesting about the book. In particular, it was interesting to read the attempt to explain movements of land and variation of climate over geological time, without a theory of continental drift. It also seems particularly clear that there is a "missing link" when it comes to questions on species. There's very much a European focus, particularly on Italy: partially because it's the nearest place to the UK that is relatively geologically active, though presumably also because it might be familiar to well-heeled readers from their Grand Tours. Inevitably much of the science has been superseded, but the scientific method itself is presented quite clearly.
Tags: books, history, science
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