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Basin and Range: Annals of the Former World, Book 1 | [John McPhee]

Basin and Range: Annals of the Former World, Book 1

To geologists, rocks are beautiful, roadcuts are windowpanes, and the earth is alive, a work in progress. The cataclysmic movement that gives birth to mountains and oceans is ongoing and can still be seen at certain places on our planet. One of these is the Basin and Range region centered in Nevada and Utah.
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Publisher's Summary

To geologists, rocks are beautiful, roadcuts are windowpanes, and the earth is alive, a work in progress. The cataclysmic movement that gives birth to mountains and oceans is ongoing and can still be seen at certain places on our planet. One of these is the Basin and Range region centered in Nevada and Utah.

In this first book of a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, the author crosses the spectacular Basin and Range with geology professor Kenneth Deffeyes in tow. McPhee draws on Deffeyes' expertise to dazzle you with the vast perspective of geologic time and the fascinating history of vanished landscapes. The effect is guaranteed to expand your mind.

McPhee's enthusiasm is infectious, as he provides one of the best introductions to plate tectonics and the New Geology. His elegant style is more pleasing than ever with narrator Nelson Runger's smooth, enthusiastic delivery. Runger mines the book's rich veins of poetic prose and subtle humor, and the result is pure gold.

Listen to more books in the Annals of the Former World collection.

©1980, 1981 John McPhee; (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"A fascinating book." (The New York Times Book Review)
"He triumphs by succinct prose, by his uncanny ability to capture the essence of a complex issue, or an arcane trade secret, in a well-turned phrase." (New York Review of Books)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (191 )
5 star
 (73)
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 (52)
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 (31)
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4.1 (46 )
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Story
3.9 (46 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Julie Niles, IL, USA 10-12-04
    Julie Niles, IL, USA 10-12-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    113
    ratings
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    462
    19
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    "Wow."

    McPhee is an amazing writer. I love geology, but he makes it positively lush and compelling to listen to. I am so glad Audible added this to their collection. Thanks!!

    32 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Golden, CO, USA 05-22-06
    David Golden, CO, USA 05-22-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    18
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    "Top notch"

    McPhee does an excellent job of introducing geology. However, despite his excellent prose, pictures and maps would add to the experience.

    Worst thing is Nelson Runger's narration--while his avuncular style is well suited to McPhee's prose, the microphone picks up all of his lip-smacking noises. Once I became attuned to this, I couldn't get it out of my mind--he sounded like a dog eating peanut butter. Please, filter this out on your next book.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald E. Bowers Clearwater, FL 05-15-14
    Ronald E. Bowers Clearwater, FL 05-15-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Classic, finally all FIVE parts now available"
    What made the experience of listening to Basin and Range the most enjoyable?

    The wealth of Geological information interwoven with the stories of the Geologists whoexplain, through McPhee, the complex but fascinating Geological history of America from coast to coast. But be aware that "Assembling California" is not listed with the other 4 books of the canon. Be sure to get all five. The Sequence I would suggest would In my opinion logically follow the trek across the country really from coast to coast ie books1 through 5 in order. Some have suggested a different sequence, but all stand alone very well. This series of 5 Audio books should be in every library of those who admire and enjoy superb non-fiction writing or Geology.These are suberbly performed by Nelson Runger.If, like me, much of your listening is done while driving, this audio book series willtransport you to "The Former World" as you travel.Ronald E. Bowers, MDFL


    What other book might you compare Basin and Range to and why?

    the other 4 books of "Annals of the Former World"


    What about Nelson Runger’s performance did you like?

    Tone and delivery matched the style of the book(s). Not pedantic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes, and re-listen!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce Monterey, MA, United States 12-25-13
    Joyce Monterey, MA, United States 12-25-13 Member Since 2004

    Old Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Marvelous book."

    McPhee tells us the story of the discovery of the speeding of the ocean floor and the Tectonic Plate which result and on which we live.

    The narration leaves something to be desired, but well worth buying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Detroit, MI, United States 08-30-07
    Lee Detroit, MI, United States 08-30-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    "Bad writing, worse reading"

    I fell in love with geology all over again reading the books of Simon Winchester, and thought I would expand into other authors. This was my first try at something I thought would be a little more scientific - boy, was I wrong. The book was the most painfully dull audio book I have ever listened to. The author seems to be relating a number of personal anecdotes, kind of a series of travelogues. While he does introduce some interesting characters in the world of geology, he gives relatively little information on geology. He does sometimes give a few factual details, but then fails to summarize the major principles, leaving the few facts he gives without context, and therefore without much meaning for the listener.

    I tried to excuse his bad writing, thinking he was a scientist who didn't know how to communicate. Then I found out he was actually an English teacher crossing over into science. Amazing. The writing was so poor, it seemed to be from someone taking a freshman creative writing class, heavily laden with badly-written, overblown descriptive passages that left me groaning.

    The narrator was so bad, I had assumed it was the author, and they had been stuck with him. I was surprised to find this man is apparently a professional reader. His voice is high and irritating, his delivery over-dramatic and completely inappropriate to the text.... I could go on, but suffice it to say, I found it a frustrating experience trying to get through this book.

    If you have a basic knowledge of geology and want to learn more (I had one year of it in college way back when), this book won't give it to you. I'm going back to Winchester.

    8 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eleanor Fairbanks, AK, USA 05-03-10
    Eleanor Fairbanks, AK, USA 05-03-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Unfortunate choice of narrator"

    The narrator's voice is slow and rather painful to listen to. I gave up after only 5 minutes. Strongly recommend listening to the _entire_ preview before purchasing, to make sure you don't find the narration equally painful.

    Very disappointing, as I loved the book.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Washington, UT, United States 08-11-10
    Larry Washington, UT, United States 08-11-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "40 minutes of listening pain"

    I love to study geology and I love good writing (printed or recorded). I gave up on this effort after 40 painful listening minutes. I, too, was an English major but I still value my "little book".

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
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