Reviews

Upheaval from the Abyss has been reviewed on Amazon.com and in American Scientist, Area, Book Notes, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Cartographica, Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, Choice, Parson's Review, Geotimes, Immersed, the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Leonardo Digital Reviews, Metascience, New Scientist, Oilfield Review, Professional Surveyor, Technology and Culture, Society of Cartographers Bulletin and The Times Literary Supplement. Below are excerpts from most of the reviews.

Date Reviewer and publication
January 26, 2002

Ted Nield, in New Scientist, writes:

"On 14 February 1873, 1500 metres below where I have just finished reading this book, one of the most famous research vessels of all time--Challenger--sailed from Tenerife on its epoch-making journey around the world. . . . But back in 1873, Challenger's scientists didn't even know how deep the oceans were, let alone how they originated, or what made up their floors.

"The geologists and geophysicists who answered those questions created our modern, plate-tectonic world view. This enjoyable book is their story . . ."

March 10, 2002

Janice Shumake, in the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, writes:

"David M. Lawrence does a masterful job of showing how ideas and theories turn into accepted knowledge. . . .

Lawrence summarizes a huge amount of information, biographical and scientific, to make this one journey understandable and readable for the average person. While this is obviously a simplified and condensed version of the science involved, he never talks down to his readers."

April 2, 2002

Agnostictrickster, an Amazon.com reader, writes:

"This book has got it all: ships, submarines, sonar, scientific [and emotional] arguments, sea-floor spreading, subduction, explosives and so much more. . . . I really enjoyed Upheaval From The Abyss and feel that others will, too."

Summer 2002

From Immersed: The International Technical Diving Magazine:

"This book is not about diving, but it can fuel the imagination of anyone who dreams of exploring the depths of the sea."

Summer 2002

Henry H. Bauer, in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, says that Upheaval from the Abyss is:

". . . a well written, even absorbing account of how some interesting people managed to expand humankind's understanding of its physical abode."

June 2002

Edward M. Davin, in Geotimes, writes:

"Upheaval from the Abyss is a popular retelling of the emergence of the theory of plate tectonics. It is written in layman's language and tells almost as much about the lives of the major players as it does about the revolution in human knowledge that they achieved. . . For anyone still not familiar with the multifaceted story of how this discovery came about, I cannot think of a better place to begin. I lived through these times. As a program director then at the National Science Foundation, I worked with many of the key scientists involved. But when I read Upheaval from the Abyss, I still found much that was new to me."

June 2002

A.P.R. Cooper, in Society of Cartographers Bulletin, writes:

". . . this book is a good read, and raises interesting questions concerning not merely plate tectonics but the conduct of science in general."

July 2002

Bernard Coakley, a geology professor at Tulane University, reviewed my book and another, Plate Tectonics (edited by Naomi Oreskes) for American Scientist. Coakley did not seem to like my book. Still, he acknowledges:

"This is a serviceable book covering the genesis of plate tectonics in a summary fashion. You could do worse as an introduction to this fascinating history."

August 2002

Amy Ione, in Leonardo Digital Reviews, writes:

"In summary, Lawrence outlines how Alfred Wegener's much maligned theory of continental drift was re-formulated in the latter half of the twentieth century with the triumphant introduction of the revolutionary plate tectonics theory. This story is a fascinating one and no doubt those who have little background in earth science and evolution will find this book useful. . . . I found myself thinking it would be a perfect book for those young high school and college students who are discovering plate tectonics and are drawn to adventure."

August 2002

Patrick Toscano, in Professional Surveyor, writes:

"David Lawrence has written an excellent history of how earth scientists and oceanographers struggled to understand the new data that was being gathered, as they fit or tried to fit it into incorrect theories. Eventually, old paradigms had to be discarded and new ones adopted. Lawrence engagingly describes the many people who contributed to the effort. . . . Lawrence writes well and he appears to love his subject. It is a lively history and one full of heroes."

August 2, 2002

Richard Shelton, in The Times Literary Supplement, writes:

"True to his training as a journalist, Lawrence presents his material crisply and directly as a series of adventure stories, each with a chapter to itself. He presents first-hand action aboard ship, in the laboratory and in intellectual argument, and unfolds his scientific theme just as vividly and with all the rigour of the professional scientist. He is as sure-footed in standing us alongside the bored deck hands and seasick scientists of HMS Challenger, examining the results of dredge haul after dredge haul, as in presenting us with the evidence that, although the continents on either side of the Atlantic are moving apart in a way congruent with the spherical geometry of Euler, the earth as a whole is neither contracting nor expanding."

September 1, 2002

F. T. Manhein, in Choice, writes:

"Lawrence's first book is a sleeper; if he continues on track he could join the ranks of elite science writers like Stephen J. Gould in geology and evolution and Jared Diamond in anthropology. . . . De rigueur for ocean scientists; recommended to everyone."

October 18, 2002

Mark Burgess, in Parson's Review, writes:

"Upheaval from the Abyss, therefore, is as suitable for the den as for the classroom. To tell the story of Wegener's theory is one thing; to make anyone other than an oceanographer care is another. It's Lawrence's enthusiasm for his subject that makes the difference. It shines through nearly every chapter, making us better appreciate the science that is at stake."

April 2003

Sabine Höhler, in Technology and Culture, writes:

"As a trained and active journalist with a background in physics and geology, he knows how to intrigue a wider audience in the grand theorizing as well as the tinkering within the scientific enterprise. Many readers will appreciate his skillful explanations of the most difficult physical principles and effects . . . Taken as a primary source, it certainly contributes substantial material for a study on heroism in science."

May 2003

Paul J. Fox, in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, writes:

"Upheaval from the Abyss proves to be a good introduction into ocean floor mapping and the earth science revolution, and is best suited for those readers who are unfamiliar with these subjects but have a curiosity about scientific exploration and discovery."

June 2003

Danny McCarroll, in Area, writes:

"The book is full of details . . . seemingly extraneous but actually making the story one of real lives, and human achievements, rather than the usual list of hallowed names, new gadgets and apparent facts that make up most work on advances in science. David Lawrence clearly combines a great enthusiasm for the history of scientific discovery with a storyteller's art, and I hope that he will produce more gems of this sort."

July 2003
[Officially it is
the June 2001
issue, though]

Albert Theberge, in Cartographica, writes:

". . . this book is a very readable account of the events, intellectual landmarks, and discoveries leading up to the development of the theory of plate tectonics. Lawrence has the ability to communicate scientific concepts in a straightforward, simple manner that serves to educate both scientist and layperson while putting a very human face on the underlying science. He presents scientists at their altruistic best and at their self-serving worst; as sombre, driven individuals and as light-hearted sometimes whimsical folk who enjoy life as much as their less-cerebral neighbours. In short, he shows that the men and women who were at the centre of the plate tectonics revolution were indeed very human."

July 2003

Cathy Barton, in Metascience, writes:

"The road to scientific discovery and revolution is not straightforward, but, like other human endeavours, it is filled with a multitude of day-to-day activities, rivalries and disputes, all of which Lawrence diplomatically relates."