'The Map That Changed the World', by Simon Winchester, begins in 1815, when an extraordinary hand painted map was published in London. The first of its kind, this geological map outlined the layers of rock beneath our feet through a mixture of unfamiliar lines and patches.
It was the result of the nearly twenty years' work of William Smith - an Oxfordshire blacksmith's son, who journeyed across Britain investigating and naming the layers of rock. Born in 1769 his life was beset by troubles: he was imprisoned for debt, turned out of his home, his work was plagiarised, his wife went insane and the scientific establishment shunned him. It was not until 1829, when a Yorkshire aristocrat recognised his genius that he was returned to London in triumph.
This book tells the story of this remarkable achievement, all the more astonishing for having been completed single-handedly and without professional or financial support.
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