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Assembling California by John McPhee
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Assembling California

by John McPhee

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Bryson likes this author in Short History...
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
It is hard to imagine that a book on geologic history could be as fascinating and dazzlingly written as this is. The author takes the reader on a geological field trip across North America along Interstate 80. In the course of the journey, he combines travelogue, geologic history and human history with some of the finest writing I have come across. What makes this book even more of an achievement is the author’s ability to convey subject matter that is so complex and potentially dry in such an engrossing manner. In the course of the book, the reader begins to understand the vastness of geological time and the tremendous forces that were required to shape the landscape. Sometimes, the feat is accomplished with breathtaking ease, as when he states, “The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone.” This is a long book at almost 700 pages, and it is filled with complex terminology (I’m still not completely sure what an orogeny is), but it is well worth the effort. It will change the way you think about the world.
  kbroenkow | Sep 5, 2007 |
I liked this book the best of all of McPhee's geology works. His explanations were easy to understand and his last chapter on the Loma Prieta earthquake was worth the price of the book. ( )
  berylmoody | Nov 10, 2006 |
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To Kenneth Stover Deffeyes
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You go down through the Ocean View district of San Francisco to the first freeway exit after Daly City, where you describe, in effect, a hairpin turn to head north past a McDonald's to a dead end in a local dump.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374523932, Paperback)

As an explainer, John McPhee is a national treasure. The longtime "New Yorker" staff writer has taken us inside the world of art museums, environmental groups, fruit markets, airship factories, basketball courts, and atomic-bomb labs the world over. Here he covers the complex geological history of California, the source of much news today. As Californians daily await the inevitable great earthquake that will send their cities tumbling down like so many matchsticks, McPhee piles fact on luminous fact, wrestling raw data into a beautifully written narrative that gainsays a sedimentologist's warning: "You can't cope with this in an organized way," he told McPhee, "because the rocks aren't organized." As always, McPhee enlarges our understanding of the strange, making it familiar--and endlessly interesting.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:47 -0400)

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