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The Second John McPhee Reader by John McPhee
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The Second John McPhee Reader

by John McPhee

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An assortment of essays drawn from his books (which, I think, are drawn from his columns). The subjects cover Alaska and its inhabitants, a guy who is also named John McPhee, the geology of California, more general geology of the US with a focus on the 'basin and range' region of Nevada and that area, a guy who collected unofficial (=dissident) Russian art...among other things. Many bits are very interesting - I got one of his geology books (Basin and Range) from the library and enjoyed it a lot. Other bits seem rather pointless to me. I enjoyed his discussion of the geology of the California gold rush a lot more than I did the subsequent history of the gold rush. This is partly because the history is made up of vignettes about dozens of people - there's no depth to it. Why did the envoy bring the gold to the army? Who _was_ the envoy, and was he acting on his own or under orders? If Sutter wanted his lease, showing the gold seems unwise. The most interesting parts were a)that the railroads had to buy their land and secure it quickly or it would have been washed and mined away; and b) that in the mid-eighteen hundreds they were using powerful hydraulic jets to mine with. I wish McPhee had gone into more detail about how those worked. I've been reading the book for long enough I've lost most of the details of the first essays, but in general - McPhee's style is quite choppy and tends to skim over subjects. I find this quite sufficient for geology. but his people stories seem to me to waver from obsessive (to the point of being boring) detail to a bare skim over the surface, leaving me puzzled more often than not. I don't love McPhee's writing overall, but his good pieces (that is. the ones I find interesting) are fascinating. I'm going to hunt up his other geology books too. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Apr 24, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374524637, Paperback)

This second volume of The John McPhee Reader includes material from his eleven books published since 1975, including Coming into the Country, Looking for a Ship, The Control of Nature, and the four books on geology that comprise Annals of the Former World.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:33 -0400)

This second volume of The John McPhee Reader includes material from his eleven books published since 1975, including Coming into the Country, Looking for a Ship, The Control of Nature, and the four books on geology gathering under the title Annals of the Former World: Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, and Assembling California.… (more)

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