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Annals of the Former World

by John A McPhee
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. 696 pages.

Assembled together in Annals of the Former World are no fewer than four of John McPhee's acclaimed popular books about North American geology — Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, Assembling California — as well as the previously unpublished Crossing the Craton. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Stephen Jay Gould praised McPhee's "ability to capture the essence of a complex issue ... in a well-turned phrase." McPhee, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1965, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for Annals of the Former World.