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Annals of the Former World [Hardcover]

John McPhee
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc; Later Printing edition (30 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374105200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374105204
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,183,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Publisher

Awards and more acclaim for ANNALS OF THE FORMER WORLD:
* WINNER of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction

"A work of such scope and seeming inevitability that it feels as predetermined as a mountain range." --David Ulin, Chicago Tribune

"ANNALS OF THE FORMER WORLD is surely a classic. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was timeless." --A.O. Scott, Village Voice

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First Sentence
The poles of the earth have wandered. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Anyone who enjoys well written non fiction will enjoy McPhee's latest, regardless of their interest in geology. He has the amazing ability to make any subject interesting, by explaining the science in a plain style while constantly keeping the personalities involved visible. From civil engineering to lighter-than-air flight to the cultivation of oranges, every essay and every book is a joy. If you are a fan of good writing, this one is for you. BUT, if you are a McPhee fan, you might be annoyed by this one. I have over two dozen of Mr. McPhee's books on my shelves at home. Four of them are this book. "Annals of the Former World" is a omnibus edition of "Assembling California", "Rising from the Plains", "In Suspect Terrain", and "Basin and Range". The only new material is a short (36 pages), well written essay "Crossing the Craton" and a poor-to-fair narrative table of contents. That's it, maybe 45 page! s of new material in a a 695 page book. I do feel that somewhere in the publicity for the book mention should have been made of this. If you've never read any of it, get it. If you are buying for a library, get it. If you are considering getting "Annals of the Former World" because you are a fan of the best non fiction writer around today, well, you might want to forget it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
McPhee's masteful writing make the difficult subjects of geology and geological time seem like old friends. I find myself looking at the rocks and layers in roadcuts in an entirely new way and wondering how McPhee would describe the images that I am seeing. He also makes geologists, both living and historic, people who I wanted to know more about. The subject coverage is exhausting. And reading the book is exhausting as well. This is not a book for a quick cross country flight. Rather it is one to be reread.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Pulitzer Prize was long overdue 13 April 1999
By A Customer
John McPhee has re-written the book on non-fiction, turning science and history into one gripping drama after another in writing that brings to mind the finest Sunday newspaper features. No matter the subject, he's set the standard by which others should be measured; the Pulitzer committee couldn't have chosen better. It's especially proper that this book be so honored, as it represents a body of work spanning many years and concerning what I suspect is McPhee's very favorite subject matter; geology and natural history. Call it his "life achievement award" but don't tell him that (we need him to keep writing for ages to come). John, I've got a shelf set aside just for your books in my library but it's half empty all the time - I can't stop lending them out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like to read, buy this book... 11 Aug 1999
By A Customer
If you have any interest in geology, western history or people you will love this book. I wasn't all that enthused by the descriptions, but once started I couldn't put it down. It is great and deserved the Pulitzer Prize that it won.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best non-fiction book ever written 23 Jun 1999
By A Customer
I am halfway through reading this for the second time. I feel that this is the most interesting non-fiction book I have ever read. (The Bible is the best book.) McPhee manages to convey the fascinating lives of individual geologists with the wonder of geology. When you finish reading it you want to be a geologist. My only criticism is that there should be an annotated and illustrated volume to better understand some of the technical parts. This book deserved the Pulitzer prize.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first geological "road book" 29 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Wow. I always liked rocks. Now I know much more. Unfortunately, driving on the interstate has become more problematic: I find my gaze directed at road cuts, the layers of rock... thinking about the depths of geological time. A good read: both from a geological perspective, but also with regards to McPhee's presentation of the geologists he traveled with- their careers, interests, what makes them tick. Buy this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo! A refreshing look at geology... 24 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Having previously labored through countless textbook style readings concerning geology, experiencing McPhee's rendering of this subject was truly a breath of fresh air. Any layperson who harbors the desire to understand the dynamics of our protean planet should strongly consider savoring McPhee's talents at telling the story.
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