Rising From the Plains : Annals of the Former World

  • by John McPhee
  • Narrated by Nelson Runger
  • Series: Annals of the Former World
  • 7 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Annals of the Former World is the result of a 20-year journey. During that time, John McPhee, author of 25 books and noted writer for The New Yorker, crisscrossed the United States, roughly following the 40th parallel. The geological insights and wonderful descriptions McPhee packed into his accounts of these trips earned his remarkable book a Pulitzer Prize. The third part of that book, Rising From the Plains, takes McPhee to the high country of Utah along the Continental Divide. His guide is David Love, "the grand old man of Rocky Mountain geology". Helping McPhee see the physical changes that have shaped this region over millions of years, Love also traces his own family's history in this oil-rich, windswept land. As McPhee climbs into the granite landscape of the Rockies, Rising From the Plains creates a fascinating picture of the interdependence of geology, commerce, and culture. Nelson Runger's clear narration further enhances McPhee's engaging text.

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What the Critics Say

"A delight." (The New York Times Book Review
"Narrator Nelson Runger...keeps the listener interested in even the most technical explanations, using pauses and emphasis to maintain clarity." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Geologic Hell Breaks Loose Again

I am nearly finished with the individual portions of' Annals of the Former World' ('Basin and Range' ☑, 'In Suspect Terrain' ☑, 'Assembling California' ☑). All I have left is to read the section 'Crossing the Craton' (a sixty page addition to his 40th parallel/I-80 project that filled in the blank in the map and allowed the publishers of 'Annals of the Former World' some additional McPhee text not found in the four main books/sections previously published to incentivize McPhee's fans to fork out the addtional $35 in 1998 to get the whole brilliant McPhee mess).

I read/listened to these books a little out of order over a little over the last year. I started off well with 'Basin & Range', 'In Suspect Terrain', but then jumped to 'Assembling California' since a couple of weeks ago I was going to be driving through California and figured it would be nice to have some geology of the geography I was going to be driving through next to me.

While I was a little disappointed with 'Assembling California', I loved 'Rising from the Plains'. I don't know if it was a return to my roots (Wyoming and Snake River and Mormon Country), or the fact that this book seemed just to excite McPhee more. You could tell he loved the Loves (David Love: Yale educated geologist, cowboy; John Love: David's father, mirthful Scot rancher/cowboy, nephew of John Muir; Ethel Waxham Love: David's mother, teacher, writer). He threads this family's golden personality and history with the geology and geography of Wyoming.

These books are dangerous and should not be given to children. I am keeping them locked up with my William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, etc. If my son or daughter (no field geology sexist me) were to discover these McPhee books too young (s)he might just grow up to be a passionate field geologist. Reading this as I near my 40s, McPhee almost makes me want to take up a hammer, hop on a horse and ride into the mountains.

I give it four stars, simply because 'Coming into the Country' still exists for me as a slightly better book, but I think the combined energy of all of the 'Annals' is definitely amazing. I've grown to appreciate the narrative skills of Nelson Runger, although he went back and forth calling the Uinta Mountains at times the [WINtas) and at other times properly the (YOU-IN-tas). Anyway, a minor issue, but not overly distracting.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Terrific Read

This book is an extremely well-written & informative blend of science and history. While Wyoming geology is the book's primary focus, the story has a profoundly human quality, tracing as it does the 100-year history of a lively and memorable family of Wyoming homesteaders. If you are scientifically curious and love good writing, you'll treasure this one.
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- Nancy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-19-2004
  • Publisher: Recorded Books