John McPhee is a name you will see here again. He is, without doubt, one of my favorite writers. Some of his books are collections of articles he wrote for The New Yorker, others address a single subject.
No matter the subject, if McPhee writes it I will read it.
Witness the fact that I have read his books (and many others) on raising oranges, building birch-bark canoes, Bill Bradley, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the Swiss Army, cargo ships, and the geology of North America—subjects I have no particular interest in but enjoyed immensely reading about.
Among my favorite McPhee books is Rising from the Plains, one of five volumes that make up his Pulitzer Prize-winning compilation, Annals of the Former World.
The book is about the geology of Wyoming, as seen through McPhee’s travels with geologist David Love. You’ll find that reading about rocks can be fascinating. But Love is also a Wyoming boy who grew up on an isolated ranch when the West was still wild, and those stories are just as engaging as the tales about traces of the Triassic on the landscape.
This is about high-country geology and a Rocky Mountain regional geologist. I raise that semaphore here at the start so no one will feel misled by an opening passage in which a slim young woman who is not in any sense a geologist steps down from a train in Rawlins, Wyoming, in order to go north by stagecoach into country that was still very much the Old West.
So begins Rising from the Plains by John McPhee. How can you not read on?