The Seashell on the Mountaintop by Alan Cutler
Reviewed by Oren Harman
The New Republic Online
"[Ed. Note. This review discusses the contents and context of two books: The Seashell on the Mountaintop and The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of Earth's Antiquity.]
I. 'Vast...horrid, hideous, ghastly ruins.' These are not the words of an observer of a latter-day war zone or a witness to the effects of an ecological disaster on a city of yore. Rather, it was the typical reaction of the seventeenth-century tourist when chancing upon...the Alps! If this seems surprising, then consider also the pronouncement of Thomas Jefferson that there exists a riddle 'beyond the investigation of human sagacity.' Had Jefferson been referring to the conundrum of human consciousness, or the problem of free will, or perhaps the confounding paradox of a benevolent, all-powerful God who allows evil in this world, we would be remiss in expressing our confusion. But the elusive puzzle too great for the powers of the human mind was the mystery of seashells embedded in stones atop mountains nowhere near the sea ? what Jefferson called 'the origin of shells in high places.'..." Read the entire New Republic Online review.