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Of the Former World tells a multilayered tale and the reader may choose one of many paths through it As clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed this is our finest popular survey of geology and a masterpiece of modern nonfiction Annals of the Former World is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfictio This book has a rhythm unlike anything else I ve read just like geology has a timescale that takes some time to wrap your head around It s like an opera Geology and opera both have a reputation of being long and boring but they are also majestic and complex This book is long but it s not boring For a while when I first started this book my three year old wanted me to read every other page to her the words were like poetry You can t read it uickly Reading out loud helped me settle down to the book s pace There are lots of big words some of the geology geek persuasion others of the English major nerd varietybut I wasn t constantly reaching for a dictionary McPhee throws a new geology term at you repeats it in multiple contexts so that you get a sense of the thing and then offers a complete definition just in case you still need help It s engagingAt first I was a little bothered by the lack of photographs of everything McPhee uses a thousand words to make a picture but I still wouldn t recognize welded tuff if it was right in front of me I wanted a modernized six minute YouTube clip series complete with reality TV interviews with the geologists right at the road cutI m not sure I would have savored that as much though And also the ideas still get through I don t want to be a geologist and I don t need to memorize what all the rocks look like But I have a much better picture of the complexities of the idea of plate tectonics what it explains what it doesn t And while I m sure some of the ideas presented in the book are dated the big picture of geology hasn t changed too much from the public s perspective in the last twenty some odd yearsEach book described some section of geology along Interstate 80 as well as the background of the geologist that McPhee accompanies during that stretch of land You really don t have to read the books in order if you don t want to Rising from the Plains was my favorite The geologist David Love had a childhood much like Ralph Moody who wrote the Little Britches series and Love s story is woven into the geology of Wyoming beautifully What an adventure

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Annals of the Former World

The Pulitzer Prize winning view of the Former PDFEPUB #194 the continent across the fortieth parallel and down through billion yearsTwenty years ago when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the Annals of PDF or United States he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth para If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence this is the one I would choose the summit of Mount Everest is marine limestone John McPhee Annals of the Former WorldWhat I absolutely love about McPhee s nonfiction is his ability to write about place people and ideas with both beautiful prose and amazing intimacy My favorite parts are where McPhee weaves place and people or people and ideas together and establishes the grand metaphor for his book McPhee picks up pieces of conversation with geologists and their satelites that might get missed by most other writers but manages to find keep and eventually place these nuggets into his book written over 20 years in a way that works to support his big themes Seriously this book is one of my favorite nonfiction works of all time You can see the mark McPhee left on his students writing if you ve ever read Robert Wright Richard Preston or New Yorker editor David Remnick Some consider McPhee to be the godfather of New New Journalism but he is much than that IMHO he is the godfather of modern nonfiction writing period

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Llel and in the process come to an understanding not only of the science but of of the Former PDF #202 the style of the geologists he traveled with The structure of the book never changed but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages under the overall title Annals of the Former WorldLike the terrain it covers Annals A most excellent remedy for insomnia and speaking as a sufferer I do not mean that pejoratively The perfect book for reading a little bit at bedtime every night easy to pick up and put down but still worth the reading It lasted me about 6 weeks not sure what I ll use now Well I suppose there s still E O Wilson s The Ants but I m not sure my arms are strong enough to hold it upLayer by layer McPhee sediments one s grasp of deep time and of the geologists who study it A little too accessible to be called magisterial but it still evokes that feeling I would also recommend it as an antidote for the news Highly recommended not that it apparently needs my approval I m glad it won the Pulitzer in its dayTa L


10 thoughts on “Annals of the Former World

  1. says:

    Absolutely bar none the finest work of American natural science that I've ever read McPhee has the eye of a scientist and the soul of a poet and it makes for truly astonishing writing I don't like to pile on the superlatives but this is probably one of my ten favorite books of all time

  2. says:

    If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence; this is the one I would choose the summit of Mount Everest is marine limestone” ― John McPhee Annals of the Former WorldWhat I absolutely love about McPhee's nonfiction is his ability to write about place people and ideas with both beautiful prose and amazing intimacy My favorite parts are where McPhee weaves place and people or people an

  3. says:

    I’m glad I’m not beyond the age where books I read can change the way I see the world If that is an age you can reach I don’t want to I can’t even drive down the highway now without seeing something as simple as road

  4. says:

    A most excellent remedy for insomnia and speaking as a sufferer I do not mean that pejoratively The perfect book for reading a little bit at bedtime every night easy to pick up and put down but still worth the reading It lasted me about 6 wee

  5. says:

    Geologists in their all but closed conversation inhabit scenes that no one ever saw scenes of global sweep gone and gone again including seas mountains rivers forests and archipelagoes of aching beauty rising in volcanic violence to settle down uietly and then forever disappear—almost disappear”“If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence this is the one I would choose The summit of Mt Everest is marin

  6. says:

    As a geology major a former gold miner and finally as a hydrogeologist the earth and its water have always fascinated me Reading John McPhee i

  7. says:

    I've only read parts of this book since there are many different books included in this version of his geologic e

  8. says:

    Based on my friend Caterina's review of one of the books contained within this compilation I think this might make an excellent gift for a young man I know

  9. says:

    This book has a rhythm unlike anything else I've read just like geology has a timescale that takes some time to wrap your head around It's like an opera Geology and opera both have a reputation of being long and

  10. says:

    Probably one of the best books I have ever read Be prepared for some geologic rigamarole and a sense of patience and the timeline of ages will unfold Its a compilation of all of McPhee's writings about American continental Geology I know sounds dull but he uses the lives and characters of the Geologists whose work he is describing along with the massive narrative arc of plate tectonics and the history of the science itself The story of A