Traces on the Appalachians: A Natural History of Serpentine in Eastern North America

Kevin Dann, Author Rutgers University Press $14.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8135-1324-9
Ostensibly his subject is serpentine, a soft green rock, but out of the facts of geology and other earth sciences, naturalist Dann ( Twenty-Five Walks in New Jersey ) evokes a story of stone quarries and barren hillsides by wide rivers and of the people who study them. In this modest and understated work, Dann succeeds in making the complexities of his discipline accessible to lay persons through a lively narrative. Confining his search for the rock to the Appalachian region, he studies serpentine from its geological development to its use as tools by prehistoric North American Indians and its place in our environment todayboth in the wild and in many buildings. Along the way, Dann recounts the work of William Henry Holmes, William Fowler and countless other scientists. For each of many sites where serpentine exists, the author provides lists and descriptions of native plant species that will surely please botanists. Replete with information but never burdened by scholarly minutiae, Dann's mix of science and history will tempt amateur naturalists. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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