Basin and Range

Annals of the Former World, Book 1
Narrated by: Nelson Runger
Series: Annals of the Former World, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
4.1 out of 5 stars (425 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $23.07

Buy for $23.07

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about Basin and Range

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    216
  • 4 Stars
    107
  • 3 Stars
    60
  • 2 Stars
    25
  • 1 Stars
    17
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    144
  • 4 Stars
    64
  • 3 Stars
    33
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    155
  • 4 Stars
    59
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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 who explain, through McPhee, the complex but fascinating Geological history of America from coast to coast on Interstate 80. 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 logically follow the trek across the USA 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 much of your listening is done while driving, this audio book series will transport you to "The Former World" as you travel. Ronald E. Bowers, MD 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!

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!!

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Slow

It'd be great if the Annals of the Former World audiobooks were compiled into one collection, like the books now are. Additionally, this is an old, out of date edition of the book. It was tricky for me to follow along with the text because passages have been added and subtracted since this audiobook was produced. I listened to this on 1.5 speed because the narrator was so slow. It sounded like regular speech after I sped him up.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining journey through time

Weaves literary genius with scientific discovery to create an enthralling tapestry of the earth and our small place in it.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Most soporific narrator EVER!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

As much as I love geology it was very hard listening to this guy read. He has all the fire of a poorly educated Baptist preacher who wonders why everyone snores during his ash dry sermons. This was a great mistake to buy when the book itself would have been much more satisfying.

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

The Old Testament
God kills everyone in the end.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He was so monotone and lifeless like an automaton that the book became increasingly tedious.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The content was great, the performance was absolutely terrible.

Any additional comments?

There should be a warning about operating heavy machinery or driving while listening to this book...

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Tough going, but good

Would you try another book from John McPhee and/or Nelson Runger?

Yes. John McPhee does his best to make a very dry and complicated subject palatable to the general reader. This is one of Nelson Runger's better books. I know that some folks aren't fans of his, but outside of a few readings, he never really bothered me.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Outside of the Narrator (McPhee) probably the guy who was able to procure the aggregate silver from abandoned mines in Nevada.

What three words best describe Nelson Runger’s performance?

Accessible. Journalistic. Engaged.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

This would probably be better as a PBS Special

Any additional comments?

It is a tough listen, I'm not going to lie. But you do learn something. My experience was enhanced by listening to it while driving to Las Vegas and being in the geological region where the book was based. It was also neat to pass by road cuts in the highway and discover how geologists use them for research. But I can see how past reviewers would want maps while listening to this.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An inviting introduction to US tectonics

Whether you're an amateur or professional geologist, or simply curious about the big fuss geologists make about rocks, this book is a joy. McPhee conveys the simplest to the most complex topics in geology with the most succinct and illuminating of metaphors that is a treat for the imagination.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Basin and Range is terrific.

A perfect blend of Earth Science and literary excellence. McPhee has given a marvelous gift to science.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Geology has never been more captivating!

McPhee has once again performed magic with a difficult, convoluted subject. Through the beauty and specificity of his writing one is drawn into understanding the world we live in. At first it seems daunting to grasp and put it all together into a manageable whole, but the author, as no other, pulls us in bit by bit to feeling as if we get it and love it and want to go out and look for a geological nonconformity.