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Basin and Range by John McPhee

Basin and Range (1980)

by John McPhee

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
"What did you do when you were a kid?"
I sure as hell didn't read geology books... ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
Interesting if you are interested in geology of North America. ( )
  Fernhill | Aug 20, 2013 |
This a great book for anyone interested in the great basin which includes Nevada, eastern California, western Utah, southeastern Oregon, Northern Arizona, and southern Idaho. ( )
  ElRemaro | Jul 26, 2012 |
I enjoyed this very much. McPhee has a lovely, engrossing style of writing. I got odd echoes of other books I've enjoyed throughout this one - he repeatedly uses the theme of traveling back and forth over an area over millions of years, and the phrase "If you turned around and came back, a million years later" kept reminding me of Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics (a book I love). Other areas, where he was talking about glaciers and their effects and the discovery of their actions, reminded me of a textbook I've owned and read and reread for years - Prehistoric America by Anne Terry White. I learned quite a bit about the underlying structures of areas I'm familiar with - the titular Basin and Range area is fascinating, and the idea that Auburn, California sits on what was once the edge of the continental shelf is amazing. He does, occasionally, go off in transports about the words and phrases of geology, without explaining the meanings behind them, but I recognized enough to more or less follow even in those areas. And one bit, talking about 'new' types of rocks discovered through microscopic and chemical analysis, explained some puzzles I've run into elsewhere - words that meant nothing to me though they were obviously types of rocks. Now I know they were fine distinctions of granite, slate, limestone, etc. Very enjoyable book - I'll look for his other geology ones, now, and see what other subjects he's covered. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Apr 19, 2010 |
An engrossing study of one of the prevalent land forms of the American West. John McPhee offers a brain-pleasing amalgam of science, culture, and sheer storytelling talent. ( )
  wesh | Apr 24, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
JOHN MCPHEE has written with dizzying competence about everything from oranges to the making of bark canoes to the proper method of weighing food. Not only is he an excellent journalist, he is a veritable master of expertise, and his latest book, ''Basin and Range,'' represents yet another such foray, this time into the geology of the American continent in the company of scientists who have spent their lives climbing, hammering and measuring everything mineral they could lay their hands on between New York and California.
added by aathiessen | editNew York Times, Paul Zweig (May 17, 1981)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374516901, Paperback)

One of the most valuable tools for the advancement of geological science has in fact been the humble road cut. United States Interstate 80 crosses the entire North American continent, in the process exposing hundreds of millions of years of geological history. In Basin and Range, McPhee, accompanied at times by Princeton geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes, demonstrates how the contorted and tilted rocks seen in these road cuts reveal how islands of the earth's crust have floated across the earth's surface, crashing and folding to form basin and range. This is a masterful and sometimes even poetic volume of popular writing about plate tectonics, communicating the profound satisfaction of using scientific research as a tool for understanding the world around us.

This is the first of four books on North American geology by McPhee, collectively entitled Annals of the Former World. The other volumes are In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, and Assembling California.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:46 -0400)

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The first of John McPhee's works in his series on geology and geologists, Basin and Range is a book of journeys through ancient terrains, always in juxtaposition with travels in the modern world--a history of vanished landscapes, enhanced by the histories of people who bring them to light. The title refers to the physiographic province of the United States that reaches from eastern Utah to eastern California, a silent world of austere beauty, of hundreds of discrete high mountain ranges that are green with junipers and often white with snow. The terrain becomes the setting for a lyrical evocation of the science of geology, with important digressions into the plate-tectonics revolution and the history of the geologic time scale.… (more)

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