Prof. Shaler's new book, "Nature and Man in America" is an admirable exposition of the latest views of modern science on the relations of organic life to its environment, treated not in the method of scientific treatises, but in an easy collonial style. In the first part of the book the author traces the effects that geological changes have had upon organic life and especially upon the human race, and in doing so gives an epitome of the geological history of our continent. In the second part he speculates upon the political bearing which the geographical features have had upon the development of the race.
Before modern methods of transportation had practically destroyed all natural barriers, areas isolated by natural features were adapted to be the cradle of permanent and strong races. Europe is peculiarly divided up into such areas, hence the large number of its political divisions and the fixedness of the race characteristics of the separate peoples. North America on the other hand, is unfitted to be the cradle-place of different peoples, for it is in the main, a geographical unit.
To the isolation of the British on this continent between the coast on the east and the practically impassable Appalachians on the west may be attributed the great development of maritime pursuits. As these barriers have been broken down by modern methods, and new fields thrown open, commerce has been more and more neglected.
Although the book is intended, according to the preface, primarily for beginners in the study of geology, it is also full of interesting suggestions to more advanced students while the peculiar clearness and simplicity of its mode of presentation render it intelligible to the average reader who may not possess a technical knowledge of geology or biology.
["Nature and Man in America," by N. S. Shaler. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1891.]