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Nicholas Crane's new book brilliantly describes the evolution of Britain's countryside and cities. It is part journey, part history, and it concludes with awkward questions about the future of Britain's landscapes. Nick Crane's story begins with the melting tongues of glaciers and the emergence of a gigantic game-park tentatively being explored by a vanguard of Mesolithic adventurers who have taken the long, northward hike across the land bridge from the continent. The Iron Age develops into a pre-Roman 'Golden Era' and Crane looks at what the Romans did (and didn't) contribute to the British landscape. Major landscape 'events' (Black Death, enclosures, urbanisation, recreation, etc.) are fully described and explored, and he weaves in the role played by geology in shaping our cities, industry and recreation, the effect of climate (and the Gulf Stream), and of global economics (the Lancashire valleys were formed by overseas markets). The co-presenter of BBC's Coast also covers the extraordinary benefits bestowed by a 6,000-mile coastline. The 12,000-year story of the British landscape culminates in the twenty-first century, which is set to be one of the most extreme centuries of change since the Ice Age.
Nicholas Crane is a rare combination: prize-winning author, an expert cartographer and an international explorer with a charisma that brings his personal obsession alive. He co-presents BBC TV's highly successful Coast series.
"Ambitious, magnificent [...] Crane is excellent at describing climate, geology and shifting shorelines, but is at his best when plaiting together earth-shaping events with humankind and civilisation"
– Andrea Wulf, Guardian
"Pungent, dramatic and drawing deeply on recent research [...] a geographer's love letter to the British and the land that formed them – and which they transformed over many millennia of creative labour. As such, it is dramatic, lyrical and even inspiring, and given all those rocks, remarkably readable"
– James McConnachie, Sunday Times
"This is a magnificent, epic work by a national treasure [...] Nothing escapes his eye [...] and the sweep of history, brought to life in superb prose, is oddly moving. A tour de force"
– Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
"Crane's book earns its place in the pantheon and it will hopefully inspire a passion for our landscapes in a new generation of readers"
– Richard J Mayhew, Literary Review
"The book I admired most was Nicholas Crane's The Making of the British Landscape as panoramic as it is revelatory"
– Tom Holland, Observer Books of the Year
"The book I want most for Christmas is the satisfyingly hefty The Making of the British Landscape by the ever reliable Nicholas Crane"
– Bill Bryson, Observer Books of the Year
"Crane provides a masterful account of how landscapes were settled and shaped"
– The National
"A definitive, encyclopaedic read and an evocative paean to the evolution of our scenery by the vastly knowledgeable BBC presenter, Nick Crane. A revealing glimpse of the Britain that once was and how we made it the place it is today"
– BBC Countryfile
"Nicholas Crane's sweeping The Making of the British Landscape shows how fragile are the views we love best, and how critical it is to guard them"
– Simon Jenkins, Evening Standard
"This is his greatest work for those curious to understand the geographical layers that have shaped Great Britain. From diminishing ice to the peak of our London urban Shard, Crane has captured the chronology of change of our landscapes, full of facts, imagination and archaeology"
– Nigel Winser, Geographical