Reddit meter
all mentions

Annals of the Former World

720 pages, 2000

science & nature

science & nature

1064 books


999 books

John McPhee's masterpiece Annals of the Former World is the Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4. 6 billion years. 

Twenty years ago, when McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States, he planned to describe a cross-section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and, in the process, come to an understanding not only of the science but of the style of the geologists he traveled with. 

The structure of the book never changed, but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages, under the overall title Annals of the Former World. Like the terrain it covers, Annals of the Former World tells a multilayered tale, and the reader may choose one of many paths through it. 

As clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed—as clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed—this is our finest popular survey of geology.

Understanding Geology

In Annals of the Former World, John McPhee takes us on a journey to explore the fascinating world of geology. He makes complex geological concepts easy to understand, making it a great read for anyone interested in learning more about our planet.

The Art of Storytelling

McPhee's storytelling skills are on full display in this book. He weaves together scientific facts, personal anecdotes, and historical events to create a compelling narrative. This book is a great example of how to make complex topics engaging and accessible.

Appreciation for the Natural World

Reading Annals of the Former World will give you a new appreciation for the natural world. McPhee's vivid descriptions of landscapes and geological formations will make you see the world in a new light. It's a reminder of the beauty and complexity of our planet.

The Passage of Time

One of the key themes in the book is the passage of time. McPhee shows us how geological formations are like a time capsule, preserving the history of the Earth. It's a fascinating look into the past, and a reminder of the constant changes happening around us.

The Human Element

While the book is primarily about geology, it also delves into the human element. McPhee introduces us to the people who study and work with rocks, giving us a glimpse into their lives and passions. It's a reminder that science is not just about facts and figures, but also about the people behind the research.

Quotes 5

John McPhee's 'Annals of the Former World' is the best book I've ever read on geology and history. It's a masterpiece.

Bill GatesBill Gates - Microsoft Co-founder

McPhee's 'Annals of the Former World' is a magnum opus, a literary triumph that brings the complex world of geology to life.

Richard ForteyRichard Fortey - Paleontologist, Author

John McPhee's 'Annals of the Former World' is a masterful exploration of the earth's history, a book that illuminates the past in a way that few others can.

Elizabeth KolbertElizabeth Kolbert - Journalist, Author

McPhee's 'Annals of the Former World' is a monumental achievement, a book that makes the complex science of geology accessible and engaging.

Simon WinchesterSimon Winchester - Author, Journalist

John McPhee's 'Annals of the Former World' is a tour de force, a book that brings the deep history of our planet to vivid life.

David QuammenDavid Quammen - Science Writer
Bill GatesRichard ForteyElizabeth KolbertSimon WinchesterDavid Quammen


authorDaniel Pink

Daniel Pink

media personalityauthor