An odd book. The 70-page memoir is essentially useless, but the appendix contains summaries of Houghton’s geological survey work, including a long excerpt from his fourth (1840) report to the Michigan legislature, which is fascinating. Houghton’s fourth report was a masterpiece of synthesis, summarizing the field notes of his team into a coherent and generally readable explanation of what they’d seen. Wonderful stuff. There are clues in other work excerpted here that Houghton could manage this sort of masterwork pretty much at will. Doubtless that’s the reason he was so widely admired. It’s a tragedy that he died so young.
This short review was originally published on LibraryThing.