The Seashell on the Mountaintop

  • by Alan Cutler
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • 5 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This is the story of a seventeenth-century scientist-turned-priest who forever changed our understanding of the Earth and created a new field of science. It was a puzzle that stymied history's greatest minds: Why were the fossils of seashells found far inland, sometimes high up into the mountains? Seventeenth century, scholars calculated the age of the earth to be only six thousand years - not enough time for the fossils to form.
The brilliant and enigmatic Nicholas Steno - the man whom Stephen Jay Gould called "the founder of geology" - explored beyond the pages of the Bible, to look directly at the clues left in the layers of the Earth. Steno challenged the religious and scientific thinking of his own time, and set the stage for the modern science that came after him. As the groundbreaking ideas gains acceptance, Steno entered the priesthood and rose to become a bishop, ultimately becoming venerated as a saint.
A thrilling scientific investigation and the portrait of an extraordinary genius, The Seashell on the Mountaintop gives us new insight into our planet, revealing how we learned to read the story told to us by the Earth itself, written in rock and stone.


What the Critics Say

"Cutler's animated and energetic prose provides a page-turning thriller of scientific discovery, and this splendid biography captures in intimate detail not only its subject but also the tenor of Steno's times." (Publishers Weekly)
"A sophisticated portrait of a forgotten pioneer." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

genesis of geology

This is a well written history of the genesis of geology. Geologist types will especially enjoy it but the style is such that everyone will be able to follow the story. I found the discussion of previous centuries' thought patterns and beliefs particulary interesting. Things that we now think are common sense weren't so obvious years ago. It makes you wonder what beliefs we are still holding on to that are getting in the way of progress.
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- reggie p

A biography of the end of ignorance

This is wonderful book that begins as a biography of a particular 17th century scientist and scholar (Nicolai Stenno) but, in reality, becomes an biography of how inquisitive scholarship, at the right time in history, can expand our knowledge of the world by challenging the paradigms that hold scientific understanding in check. This is a great account of how the exploration of a simple curiosity challenged the fundamental biblical and "scholarly" interpretation of the creation and formation of natural world. If you interpret biblical stories such as Noah's Flood or the Creation story as fundamentally true - which must serve as the basis for all scientific examination - you may find this book troublesome.
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- Rick

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-19-2003
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books