Penn State

Daniel C. Haworth - Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Annals of the Former World

Author: John A. McPhee

Book Description:

I have never been an avid reader. However, when I first became aware of John McPhee's writing I immediately borrowed - and eventually bought - every book that he has written. "Annals of the Former World" is one of my favorites; it earned McPhee the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. In "Annals," McPhee introduces the geological history of the United States through a series of excursions across the I-80 corridor with eminent geologists. He manages to convey the intricacies of geology and plate tectonics with the readability (almost!) of a popular novel, including the interesting and memorable characters.

Probably what most captured me was McPhee's skill in communicating a sense for geological time scales. This has helped me to keep things in perspective on more than one occasion.


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