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John Mcphee's book Annals of the Former World
 by John A. McPhee
 
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Reviews of John Mcphee's book Annals of the Former World by John A. McPhee
                     Amazon.com
                     In 1978 New Yorker magazine staff writer John McPhee set out making
                     notes for an ambitious project: a geological history of North America,
                     centered, for the sake of convenience, on the 40th parallel, a history that
                     encompasses billions of years. In 1981 he published the first of the four
                     books that would come from his research: Basin and Range, a study of
                     the mountainous lands between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas.
                     Two years later came In Suspect Terrain, a grand overview of the
                     Appalachian mountain system. In 1986 McPhee released Rising from
                     the Plains, a history of the Rocky Mountains set largely in Wyoming.
                     And in 1993 came Assembling California, a survey of the area
                     geologists find to be a laboratory of volcanic and tectonic processes, a
                     place where geology can be watched in the making. Annals of the
                     Former World gathers these four volumes, which McPhee always
                     conceived of as a whole, to make that epic of the Earth's formation; to it
                     he adds a fifth book, Crossing the Craton, which introduces the
                     continent's ancient core, underlying what is now Illinois, Iowa, and
                     Nebraska.
                     Mcphee's great virtue as a journalist covering the sciences--and any
                     other of the countless subjects he has taken on, for that matter--is his
                     ability to distill and explain complex matters: here, for example, the
                     processes of mineral deposition or of plate tectonics. He does so by
                     allowing geologists to speak for themselves and an entertaining lot they
                     are, those sometimes odd men and women who puzzle out the landscape
                     for clues to its most ancient past. Annals of the Former World is a
                     magisterial work of popular science for which geologists--and devotees
                     of good writing--will be grateful. --Gregory McNamee
 
John Mcphee's book Annals of the Former World
 by John A. McPhee
 


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