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The Pulitzer Prize winning view of the continent across the fortieth parallel and down through 46 billion yearsTwenty years ago when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and in the pro. 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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Annals of the Former World

Cess come to an understanding not only of the science but of 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 of the Former World tel. 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 is always a delight because he takes what remains mostly a poorly done body of work in mostly scientific terms and turns an explanation of how the earth came to be into a readable and engaging topic Something just about anyone can enjoy provided they have the curiosity and interest in wondering how so much stunning geography came to be where it is and what it isWell done John McPheeGreat Read

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Ls 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 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonficti. 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


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

  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 m

  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

  4. says:

    A most excellent remedy for insomnia and speaking as a sufferer I do not mean that pejoratively The perfect book for readin

  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

  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 is always a delight because he takes what remains mostly a poorly done bo

  7. says:

    I've only read parts of this book since there are many different books included in this version of his geologic exploration of a cross section of the US I have a few things to say #1 Read Rising from the Plains as you're driving in the Tetons

  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 gif

  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

  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 sound

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