Assembling California

Assembling California

Book - 1994
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At various times in a span of fifteen years, John McPhee made geological field surveys in the company of Eldridge Moores, a tectonicist at the University of California at Davis. The result of these trips is Assembling California, a cross-section in human and geologic time, from Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada through the golden foothills of the Mother Lode and across the Great Central Valley to the wine country of the Coast Ranges, the rock of San Francisco, and the San Andreas family of faults. The two disparate time scales occasionally intersect--in the gold disruptions of the nineteenth century no less than in the earthquakes of the twentieth--and always with relevance to a newly understood geologic history in which half a dozen large and separate pieces of country are seen to have drifted in from far and near to coalesce as California. McPhee and Moores also journeyed to remote mountains of Arizona and to Cyprus and northern Greece, where rock of the deep-ocean floor has beentransported into continental settings, as it has in California. Global in scope and a delight to read, Assembling California is a sweeping narrative of maps in motion, of evolving and dissolving lands.

Publisher: New York : Noonday Press : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994.
Edition: First Noonday Press edition
ISBN: 9780374523930
Branch Call Number: 557.94 MCPHEE J
Characteristics: 303 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.


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Dec 03, 2014

In and around the San Francisco Bay area, we have ready access to as many beautiful natural features as any populated region in the world. In this, the penultimate volume in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Annals of the Former World, John McPhee explores science that made these features wonderful. As with the previous volumes in the series, Assembling California is more than just a geology lesson. McPhee's focus rests on the intersection between immense and impersonal geologic time and immediate and emotional human time. To explore the intersection, he recounts the origins and impacts of the Gold Rush, the scientific revolution of Plate Tectonics, and, of course, the earthquakes that the shape the land around us. Told in a loose narrative of a road trip McPhee took with preeminent geologist Eldridge Moore's down Interstate 80 from the Sierras to the sea, it takes rich side trips to places from the Parthenon in Athens to miles beneath the floor of the ocean. This book rewards and reader who has ever wondered just why California is so beautiful. More surprisingly it also rewards people who have never wondered that.


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