The New Forest: Geology and Fossils, by James Barnet

Those of you who have read a few of my book reviews will know that I love geo-guides to small geographical areas, rather than just the big geological scientific issues. In fact, there are lots of good UK guides like this one, to areas such as Dorset and Yorkshire, and many areas of Scotland and Wales, for example. And this is another excellent example of that genre.

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Book review: Another Primordial Day: The paleo metal diaries, by Mats E Erikssön

Those of you who are frequent readers of this magazine will know that Mats Erikssön writes fascinatingly quirky articles combining his favourite genre of music and his profession – palaeontology and death (heavy) metal. I am certainly not an expert on the latter, but I do know that, to link the two, is always going to be a bold and humorous conceit.

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Book review: Trilobites, Dinosaurs and Mammoths: An introduction to the prehistory of the British Isles, by James McKay (for the Palaeontological Association)

This is an interesting little booklet and very much a new departure for the Palaeontological Association. You will be aware that I have reviewed several of its many excellent fossil guides in this magazine. However, this recently published tome is somewhat different.

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Rebels, Scholars, Explorers: Women in Vertebrate Paleontology, by Annalisa Berta and Susan Turner

This is certainly a somewhat different sort of book from those I usually review. As it makes clear, women have always played key roles in the field of vertebrate palaeontology, going back centuries. However, other than perhaps the most best known historical female vertebrate palaeontologists comparatively little is known about these women scientists and their true contributions have probably been obscured. In this context, the book aims to reveal this hidden history, thereby celebrating the diversity and importance of women VPs.

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Book review: Spacerocks: A collectors’ Guide to Meteorites, Tektites and Impactites, by David Bryant

This is a nice little guide for the non-specialist collector of all things that go bump from above (and the effects they have on the rocks they impact). As is clear from the title, the book covers three wide categories: meteorites, tektites and impactites.

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Book review: Mountains: The origins of the Earth’s mountain systems, by Graham Park

I have reviewed several of Graham Park’s books for Dunedin in this magazine (Introducing Tectonics, Rock Structures and Mountain Belts in Issue 33, The making of Europe: A geological history in Issue 43 and Introducing Natural Resources in Issue 46) and this is yet another fine example.

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Book review: Inscriptions of Nature: Geology and the Naturalization of Antiquity, by Pratik Chakrabarti

Maybe it’s a result of my social anthropology and geological background, but I found this difficult but fascinating book a great read. It’s about nineteenth century India. It is not about the modern geological science or social anthropology of the subcontinent, but rather, the geological imagination of India, as well as its landscapes and people, and its history.

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Book review: Fossilien im Alpstein: Kreide und Eozän der Nordostschweiz (Fossils in the Alpstein: The Cretaceous and Eocene of north-eastern Switzerland), by Peter Kürsteiner and Christian Klug

This is clearly one for our German speakers, of which I am glad to say there are many. However, this glossy and excellently produced hardback, covering the fossils of the Alpstein region of Switzerland, may have general appeal to anyone interested in the identification and study of fossils from various parts of the world, despite being written in German.

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Book review: Recreating an age of reptiles, by Mark P Witton

I like palaeoart. I recently went to the ‘Dinosaurs of China’ exhibition in Nottingham (reviewed in Issue 51 of this magazine) and bought myself a copy of the Chinese palaeoartist, Zhao Chuang’s ‘The Age of Dinosaurs’ – a veritable picture-fest of up-to-date reconstructions of ancient beasts and plants, complete with fuzzy raptors and other bird-like therapods.

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Book review: Fossils of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation, edited by David M Martill and Steve Etches (pictures editor, Robert F Loveridge)

I always wait expectantly for the publication of a new Palaeontological Association guide to fossils and, when they turn up, I am never disappointed. This is undoubtedly another triumph. This guide attempts to bring the diversity of its flora and fauna together in a single work, for the first time.

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Book review: Measures for Measure: Geology and the Industrial Revolution, by Mike Leeder

I sat down to read this over Christmas and what a good read it turned out to be. The appropriate word is ‘eclectic’ – because Measures for Measure is written for all us with an interest in the industrial history of Great Britain, and its impact on the landscape, economy, social history and culture. It’s a great read as it dots about linking places and ideas together, with the link always being the geology.

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Book review: Volcanoes of Europe (2nd ed), by Dougal J Jerram, Alwyn Scarth and Jean-Claude Tanguy

In this second edition, Dougal Jerram has revised and updated the 2001 version, first published by Alwyn Scarth and Jean-Claude Tanguy. This is to reflect modern research and understanding of Europe’s volcanoes of the last 10,000 years (active, dormant and extinct).

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Book review: Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, by Danna Staaf

If you, like me, spend much of your palaeontological time collecting Jurassic and Cretaceous cephalopods in the south of the UK (ammonites, belemnites and nautiluses), while dabbling with some Silurian orthocones in Shropshire, you will be delighted at the number of books being published recently about this fascinating group of animals.

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Book review: Strata: William Smith’s Geological Maps, with contributions by Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with a foreword by Robert Macfarlane

This book is truly sumptuous, and yet is also a comprehensive discussion of William Smith’s maps (including the revolutionary ‘A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland’) and career. It is beautifully produced, printed on quality paper and the full colour illustrations are outstanding.

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Book review: Excursion Guide to the Geomorphology of the Howgill Fells, by Adrian Harvey

This little guide contains excursion guides explaining and exploring the relationship in the UK between hillslope gully erosion and the response by stream and valley systems within the Howgill Fells of Cumbria. The author’s choice of this area rests on the fact that it is one of the most active landscapes in Britain from the point of view of erosion.

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Book review: Dinosaurs, Evolution and the Woman whose discoveries changed the World: the Fossil Hunter, by Shelley Emling

Mary Anning was clearly one of the most significant characters of eighteenth century science and possibly of all time, particularly in the realm of palaeontology. I am not sure that she is quite as unknown (certainly in the UK) as the American author this excellent little biography claims, but she certainly should be better known.

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Book review: The Coast of the Bristol Region: Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology, by David Case

The 71st GA guide has been published and what a good one it is too. It’s not really my area (I prefer palaeontology) and covers quite a specialist subject, but this is certainly interesting. And this is surely the point of GA guides – to cover topics that other publishers might be reluctant to consider.

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Book review: Marvelous Microfossils: Creators, Timekeepers, Architects, by Patrick De Wever, foreword by Hubert Reeves and translated by Alison Duncan

This is a lovely book – a glorious mixture of a beautiful coffee-table book and an academic treatise of the highest quality. But why microfossils? What is it about them that can create such strong feelings?

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Book review: Geology of south Dorset and south-east Devon and its World Heritage Coast, The British Geological Survey

I don’t normally review BGS memoirs – they are excellent publications, but largely written for the professional or the seriously committed amateur geologist. (I have to admit to owning several, which cover my favourite fossil collecting areas of the UK.) However, this is one ‘Special Memoir’ that I am quite willing to make an exception for.

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Book review: Geology of the Jurassic Coast: The Red Coast Revealed – Exmouth to Lyme Regis, by Richard A Edwards; and Geology of the Jurassic Coast: The Isle of Purbeck – Weymouth to Studland, by Paul Ensom and Malcolm Turner

The Jurassic Coast Trust is certainly producing some good books these days. I have alraedy reviewed one (The Jurassic Coast: An Aerial Journey through time by Peter Sills) and I think these two might even be better. As is well known, in recognition of its wonderful geology, the coast between Orcombe Rocks in southeast Devon and Old Harry Rocks in south Dorset was granted World Heritage status in December 2001.

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Book review: Breakthroughs in Geology: Ideas that transformed Earth Science, by Graham Park

In recent years, Graham Park has been prolific in his writing for Dunedin Academic Press. In this new tome, he has produced what I suspect is a really great introduction to a range of key concepts and geological processes for both undergraduates and the interested, moderately well-informed amateur.

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Book review: Hutton’s Arse: 3 billion years of extraordinary geology in Scotland’s Northern Highlands (2nd edition), by Malcolm Rider and Peter Harrison

If you can see past the somewhat robust title (a reference to James Hutton’s discomfort riding around Scotland on horseback during his geological investigations), this is an interesting read, combining both geological science and humour in just about the right measures.

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Book review: A History of Plants in 50 Fossils, by Paul Kenrick

A History of Plants in 50 Fossils would seem to be the follow up to the well-received A History of Life in 100 Fossils. However, this time, this glossy hardback tells the story of plants on earth using significant fossils that are, for the most part, kept at the Natural History Museum in London.

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Book review: English Wealden fossils, edited by David J Batten

The long awaited PalAss guide to Wealden fossil flora and fauna has finally arrived and what a magnificent tome it is. At 769 pages and 35 chapters, it is by far the most ambitious and complete of their guides, covering various vertebrate groups, together with invertebrates, plants and stratigraphical descriptions of what can be found on the coast and in the quarries of southern England and the Isle of Wight.

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Book review: Introducing volcanology: A guide to hot rocks, by Dougal Jerram

This is the third in a series of earth science books published by Dunedin, the previous two of which (on palaeontology and geology) have been reviewed in this magazine. I said of those books that they were excellent little volumes for the beginner and the amateur, and the current book is no different.

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Book review: Logging the Chalk, by Rory N Mortimore

I have stood several times in front of an (apparently) plain white, chalk cliff-face along with others, while Prof Mortimore discussed the implications of what we were seeing. And, every time, I left not just thinking but knowing this was the most fascinating piece of geology I had ever seen.

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