Annals of the Former World

Annals of the Former World

Book - 1998
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years

Twenty 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 process, 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 World .

Like the terrain it covers, Annals 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 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374105204
Branch Call Number: 557.3 MCPHEE J
Characteristics: 695 pages : maps ; 24 cm.


From Library Staff

Whether it's trucks, rivers, or the Laramide orogeny, you can't go wrong with John McPhee. Here's how some pieces of North America came together.

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Jun 14, 2016

As usual, John McPhee writes about complex topics in simple, lovely, and entertaining prose. I read this while going through an anxious time and found it incredibly soothing and pleasant to just read about rocks. Would recommend.

Jan 03, 2016

I've adored this book since coming across it about 10 years ago. John McPhee makes geology thrilling! Have re-read it a couple of times since and am still planning the road trip that would follow in his footsteps.

Jul 24, 2012

This series imbues my own transcontinental travels, by plane and truck, with much deeper meaning than a simple appreciation for the landscape above/through which I am passing.

Feb 11, 2011

This was the first book by McPhee that I read and I loved it. He is great at writing about a technical topic through the personal experiences of views of experts in the field.

I didn't know that I loved geology until I read this book.


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