I have been lucky enough to review several books by Dunedin – the others being on palaeontology, geology and volcanology. And this is as good as the others. However, it is not an easy book to read. The illustrations are, as always, superb – colourful and clear – but this book is more suitable for the more mathematically and scientifically minded, especially those who enjoy the science of engineering.

I have stood several times in front of an (apparently) plain white, chalk cliff-face along with others, while Prof Mortimore discussed the implications of what we were seeing. And, every time, I left not just thinking but knowing this was the most fascinating piece of geology I had ever seen. That is it the man.

This book explains that ground conditions for building depend on the history of all these aspects in connection with both the actual building site and the surrounding area. In fact, the book goes into some detail, using colour photographs and block geomodels, to bring the subject to life in what is, I suspect, a somewhat fresh way.