Annals of the Former World
NY, Farrar Straus Giroux, (1998). McPhee's Pulitzer Prize-winning geological history of North America. A massive volume, and a 20+ year project, it comprises four books published during those years -- Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising From the Plains and Assembling California -- plus a new piece entitled Crossing the Craton. In addition, McPhee wrote "A Narrative Table of Contents" for this volume, in which he explained the project. This copy is signed by the author. McPhee has long been considered one of our finest writers of narrative nonfiction on any subject, but geology has come to be his signature theme, and this collection is clearly his magnum opus, the longest sustained exploration of any subject that he has undertaken, and probably the longest sustained writing on geology, earth's history and geological time ever attempted for a lay audience. Even with the lucidity of McPhee's prose, it is a difficult subject to wrap the mind around because of the enormous spans of time involved, but occasionally in McPhee's hands the history and evolution of the earth takes on the some of the character of a symphony -- constantly changing but with underlying and ongoing themes and characteristics, and an extraordinary harmoniousness. A remarkable accomplishment, which vindicates the notion -- put forth by McPhee and other "New Journalists" in the 1960s -- that nonfiction could be elevated to the stature of Literature, with elegant form and structure, and soaring and transcendent meaning. In addition to McPhee's signature opposite the title page, this copy has, on the half title, the signature of 1987 Nobel Prize winning chemist Donald J. Cram (here "D.J. Cram"), who was a professor at UCLA for more than three decades (and an avid surfer); Cram would have been 79 at the time of this volume's publication. A bit of shelf wear to the lower edges of the cloth; slight spine lean; a very near fine copy in a fine dust jacket. One of McPhee's least common books to find signed, an award winner, and of particularly notable and interesting provenance. [#032309] SOLD
All books are first printings of first editions or first American editions unless otherwise noted.