Regular price: $23.07

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    156
  • 4 Stars
    84
  • 3 Stars
    49
  • 2 Stars
    24
  • 1 Stars
    17

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    94
  • 4 Stars
    42
  • 3 Stars
    25
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    3

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    42
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    3
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Julie
  • Niles, IL, USA
  • 10-12-04

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!!

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • 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 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!

5 of 5 people found this review 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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Golden, CO, USA
  • 05-22-06

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 of 17 people found this review 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Awesome!

I am a geologist and this takes me back to college. It's a wonderful story and the presentaion is great.

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

The Science, and Geologic History of the Basin and Range as Told by an adventuring English Professor

To most a book about the geological science and history of the Basin and Range sounds about as boring as it gets. Because Basin and Range is told from the perspective of an English Professor on the road with geology academic, however, Basin and Range was both entertaining and extremely Educational. Although at time this story is slow going, it is nonetheless a must read/listen for anyone living in the Basin and Range , or anyone interested in how the beauty of the mountain states' landscape came to be.

  • 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.

  • 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...