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.