If you can imagine a travelogue without pictures this is it. Shimer covers the earth from height to depth, east to west, past to present. He dates it, analyzes it, reconstructs its history and theorizes on the causes of the major and minor upheavals that have resulted in the present shape of its face. But not so as an innocent could comprehend. The seasoned geological tourist may need only a word or two from the lecturer to conjure up a panorama or a fine detail. The innocent abroad is soon awash in facts and minutiae, in streams of technical words whose definition may be postponed or never given. The magic of ""gneiss"" and ""loess,"" ""drumlins"" and ""tombolos,"" and ""guyots"" and ""eskers"" may cast you adrift like the calcareous or silicious ooze. Once in a rare while there is a nice simile like. ""The mantle...has been likened to a thick stew churning in a pot and the continents to areas of thick scum moving on the surface."" More often the style is, ""The maximum rise of the land in the Gulf of Bothnia...has been approximately 250 meters since 6800 B.C."" Too bad because the material the author has to convey is often fascinating. Had he been less conscientious and more removed, such gold would not have been so hard to mine.