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 Annals of the Former World 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.
"You now have a chance to catch up with a bumper edition of Mcphee. Annals of the Former World is a reprint of four short books, from the first and best-known journey Basin and Range (Nevada, 1991), through In Suspect Terrain (Appalachians, 1983), across Rising from the Plains (Wyoming, 1986) and now joined by Crossing the Craton (Nebraska and Colorado). For anyone not familiar with McPhee's wonderful reportage and turn of phrase, this is a great opportunity to catch up. I remember the incredulity of an American student a couple of years ago who was almost unable to believe me when I revealed that I hadn't heard of, let alone read, McPhee. I have now, and I am eternally grateful for the introduction."
- Douglas Palmer in New Scientist