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The story of William Smith, an 18th century mining surveyor who noticed that rocks were layered and that sequences of strata held distinctive fossils. Seeing the need to view rocks in 3 dimensions, he produced his first map in 1799, followed in 1815 by his masterwork, a stratigraphical map of England and Wales, astonishing for the dynamic concepts it embodies: uplift and folding, the impermanence of land and sea, and the interplay with living processes.
Simon Winchester is an award-winning journalist who now lives in New York. Having reported from all over the world during his 20-year career as a Guardian foreign correspondent, he has also written 13 books, including the highly acclaimed international bestseller The Surgeon of Crowthorne.