Annals of the Former World

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"Tripling as a geology primer, an autobiography, and a panorama of the nation, bejeweled with splendid vignettes and set-pieces, "Annals of the Former World" offers a view of America like no other. . . . Yield to its geopoetry and have your eyes opened to a barely known aspect of the continent."--Roy Porter, "Los Angeles Times Book Review." A Pulitzer Prize-winning book. 25 maps.

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400rabbits

Nov 26, 2009

A page-turner

This elegant, accessible, infinitely readable book takes us across the United States and into the states of mind of the earth as it creates and recreates itself for four and a half billion years. My first copy disintegrated from hard usage, I bought a new copy, and one to give to a friend, who then bought a copy for a friend. McPhee is the consummate stylist, and this is his greatest book. A book to read and read again.

mollybp

May 30, 2009

Amazing.

Sometimes I read the Pulitzer-prize winning books and I just don't get it--I don't know why the judges would choose that book over any other decent book of a particular year--but this book is an exception. It's a masterpiece.

This book is incredibly long and examines a pretty intimidating subject--the geography of America--but McPhee has illuminated the subject in such a way that compliments the multi-dimensional history of a land and its people. At times he "zooms out" to give the reader a mind-boggling view of geological epochs, and at other times, he'll give us close, intimate portraits of people who have studied this land and how they view it. He drops in complex geological terminology with lovely descriptions of landscapes and somehow it all makes sense.

It's taken me a year or so to finally finish this monumental book, partly because it's so long, and partly because I'd stop and re-read portions, or mark pages, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any serious reader. And honestly, I can't overstate this: this book has changed the way I see this land, and this earth, and has made me proud to be a part of it's complicated history.

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