Americana; Corridors of Time: 1,700,000,000 Years of Earth at Grand Canyon, by Ron Redfern. New York: Times Books. $39.95.

This is a beautiful, magnificent, thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the geology of one of the grandest natural spectacles on Earth, with enough of a briefing on the evolution of our planet itself to put it all in perspective.

This is not a technical book and, despite its large format, it's not a mere "coffee table" book, either. It is an informative essay by a man in love with a natural wonder who wants to tell you all about it.

The essence of Ron Redfern's message is conveyed by his panoramic color photographs. Panoramic, he explains, means larger than you can see without moving your eyes -- a photograph that extends beyond peripheral vision. Using techniques he developed himself, he has accomplished just that --sweep and grandure of the canyon. They give fresh meaning to the cliche "the next best thing to being there."

In fact, on a first pass through the book, it's difficult not to dwell on the photographs alone. However, the text, supplemented by Gary Hinck's illustrations, soon commands attention. The photographs beg many questions of what, how, when, and how long. These Mr. Redfern answers in enough detail for a layman's understanding, but without technical overkoll. Yet even a professional geologist should enjoy these photos.

In short, it's a book that can be recommended for anyone interested in Earth and its features -- an expensive book, but very good value for money.

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