Sometimes sea-changes in thinking come from the most unexpected places. Emerging technologies and a favorable economic conditions facilitated a boom in British inland canal building during the mid-18th century. All that digging revealed previously unknown, or possibly just unappreciated, fossils. As experience grew, it was observed that the fossils were not just randomly distributed... but what was the pattern? Well, I won't tell the whole story here, but a clever fellow named William Smith applied knowledge of the fossil finds to his knowledge of mapmaking and spearheaded entirely new ways of thinking about each. Canals, fossils, mapmaking, British canal building... this could been dry subject material, but author Simon Winchester delivers an engaging tale without fictionalizing or speculating. Top recommendation.