Basin and Range

9780374516901

Basin and Range

  • ISBN 13:

    9780374516901

  • ISBN 10:

    0374516901

  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 04/01/1982
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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Summary

The first of John McPhee's works in his series on geology and geologists,Basin and Rangeis a book of journeys through ancient terrains, always in juxtaposition with travels in the modern worlda 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. John McPheeis the author of more than 25 books, includingAnnals of the Former World, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction in 1999. He has been a staff writer atThe New Yorkersince 1965 and lives in Princeton, New Jersey. McPhee'sEncounters with the ArchdruidandThe Curve of Binding Energywere both nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science. Basin and Rangeis a book of journeys through ancient terrains, always in juxtaposition with travels in the modern worlda 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, a spectacular topography that is never evoked by people who dismiss it as "desert." On and off Interstate 80, the author traversed the Basin and Range with Kenneth S. Deffeyes, a professor of geology who has done extensive field work in Nevada. The terrain becomes the setting and the sample 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. Basin and Rangeis the first book in a series on geology and geologists, presenting a cross section of North America along the fortieth parallel, and gathering under the overall titleAnnals of the Former World. The second and third books in the series areIn Suspect TerrainandRising from the Plains. "InBasin and Range, McPhee is not so much a visiting amateur as a rhapsodist of 'deep time' . . . The result is a fascinating book."Paul Zweig,The New York Times Book Review(front page) "One result of the trip west is an introduction to plate tectonicsprobably the most readable summary extant. Geologists will find it sound, others will find it understandable and illuminating."Geotimes "He triumphs by succint prose, by his uncanny ability to capture the essence of a complex issue, or an arcane trade secret, in a well-turned phrase."Stephan Jay Gould,New York Review of Books

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