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Old 05-21-2007, 09:09 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Book: Annals of the Former World- McPhee

All the folks hitting the road got me thinking that I should make everyone aware of a fantastic book related to geology: Annals of the Former World by John McPhee. This volume is actually a series of books he wrote while traveling the U.S. with geologists. McPhee is a gifted writer and you can almost see the former landscapes as you are reading. McPhee received the Pulitzer Prize for this work and rightfully so. If you want to understand mountain building and plate tectonics this is a great starting point. On the other hand this book is anything but a dry science book: it is about people. The book is chocked full of characters. I re-read parts of this every year. I can go on and on about this book, but I will hush up.

Authors website Annals of the Former World

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Old 05-21-2007, 09:52 AM   #2
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Thanks for the Book Review. Reading is one of my passions and this book
sounds like one I will look forward to reading. Thanks again

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Old 05-21-2007, 10:43 AM   #3
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I quite agree about John McPhee.
Most of his work has appeared first in The New Yorker magazine. A most perservering fellow, he was rejected for more than ten years before his first article was accepted for print. Along with "annals", I try to take one of the Roadside Geology series for the area I plan to travel. Out here in the west, geology is laid bare and "accessible" as we hip folks like to say. Some of McPhee's books are:
* A Sense of Where You Are
* The Headmaster
* Oranges
* The Pine Barrens
* A Roomful of Hovings
* Levels of the Game
* The Crofter and The Laird
* Encounters With the Archdruid
* The Deltoid Pumkin Seed
* The Curve of Binding Energy
* Pieces of the Frame
* The Survival of the Bark Canoe
* Coming Into the Country
* Giving good Weight
* Basin and Range
* In Suspect Terrain
* La Place De La Concorde Suisse
* Table of Contents
* John McPhee Reader
* Rising from the Plains
* The Control Of Nature
* Looking for a Ship
* Assembling California
* Ransom of Russian Art
* Irons in the Fire
* Crossing the Craton

No all earth-shaking like the Annals, but great reads all!
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:10 AM   #4
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Sounds interesting, Rodney. I am often wondering about how a geologic feature came to be as we travel along.

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Old 05-21-2007, 12:57 PM   #5
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Good suggestion! I'm always interested in these kind of natural history books...or any book for that matter. Several interesting travel like books I have read the past couple of years are:

"The Story of Maps", awesome history book on how maps came about. A little academic, but the read between the citations is fascinating

"The Island of Lost Maps", about a guy that went around to historical collections, stealing historical maps and selling them at auction. True story.

"Wild Shore - Exploring Lake Superior by Kayak" Author circles Lake Superior by Kayak, in small bites. Interesting, especially during the north shore portion. Has nice history, just wish he added more.

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Old 05-03-2008, 08:40 PM   #6
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Some geology talk and my own musings as the big summer trip approaches leads me to bump this one

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Old 05-04-2008, 07:14 AM   #7
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Thanks for the reminder, a McPhee book is one I will always have a look at. And college geology was thirty years ago. Agreed that it is a subject central to understanding for travel.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:35 AM   #8
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Before embarking on another season of cross-country travel, I too reread "Annals of the Former World." To me, John McPhee stands supreme among writers who can combine non-fiction writing about the real world and the people who shape our knowledge of it. Time after time, he finds the perfect descriptive word in sentences that make you stop in awe admiring his craft and reaching for your dictionary.

I'll never forget reading "Coming Into The Country" for the first time and encountering one of the principal characters, a modern day mountain man named Brad Snow. Brad's older brother was my best friend in junior high school back in Massachusetts. Chris died of leukemia then. McPhee will bring to mind people, places, and things that we all remember if only vaguely. Every one of his books is a treasure.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:43 AM   #9
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How did I miss this last year. I would have jumped all over it. Why, because I've had this wonderful book since I think 2004. No matter what you like to read, you'll like this book.

I really like the way you can pick it up and start again anywhere and enjoy a few hours of delightful information.
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:13 AM   #10
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McPhee's one of the good ones.

Don't forget Edward Abbey, Aldo Leopold, Donald Worster, Wallace Stegner . . . .

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