Book of the Week: Surf with a sense of triumph

26th September 2003 at 01:00

Earth
Editor-in-chief: James F Luhr
Dorling Kindersley pound;30

This is a sensuous book. Some books appeal only to the intellect, but this one is a delight for the senses as well. Every page pleases the eye, not just by the display of dramatic photographs and illustrations to illuminate the words, but also in the way the words and photographs have been arranged together. It is a triumph of graphic art. Even the fingertips are stimulated by the feel of the book, as one turns pages of high-quality paper whose glossy coating, while intended to enhance the reproduction of the photographs, is an invitation to touch as much as to read.

If the production of Earth is an ambitious and successful enterprise, then it is matched by the breathtaking scope of the contents. A collaboration between the publishers, several science writers, and the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington has delivered all of what we might call "earth science", and a bit more too. Land, sea, and air all get substantial sections to themselves, in addition to the conventional geology of rocks, minerals and tectonic plates. There is even a chapter putting the Earth into context as one planet within the solar system and the wider universe.
With more than 500 pages, each 25 per cent larger than A4 in size, this is both an encyclopaedia and a coffee-table book.

Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine

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