Annals of the Former World by John McPhee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a very pleasant surprise to me. Not only is it an amazing read, but I’ll have to put it somewhere in my all-time top 10 most wonderful books. McPhee manages to enlighten, educate, and entertain all in this one volume.

The subject matter is, of course, geology. However, it’s also about Time; vast stretches of time and how they relate to the wee intervals of human time. While much of the science in this book is theoretical, it is mostly accepted as being the nearest approximation to what actually occurred on this rock in the last four-or-so billion years.

While McPhee focuses mostly on the continental U.S., he can’t help but explain similar occurrences around and within the globe. Geology to me is an interesting subject, but one that I never really did more than scratch the surface, so to speak, in learning about. I’m very glad I read this book.

Even though, it’s only distantly related to the science of Paleontology, for some reason it reminded me very much of another favorite author’s musings… Loren Eiseley. I would most definitely recommend reading McPhee’s Annals. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

One response »

  1. Over the last 25 years I have read five of McPhee’s books. In “Rising from the Plains” he sets up a cadence of the mountains and geology moving much the same as Cormick McCarthy with the horses walking in “All that Pretty Horses” and again with the son & father walking in “The Road”. I loved everything I read of his and didn’t realize he was so prolific until just now when I reviewed him on Wikipedia.

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