Basin and Range: John McPhee, 1981
Reading McPhee on the geology of the Great Basin while driving through Utah was a superlative experience! His ability to make dry, complex science leap off the page through the iteration and reiteration of unpronounceable words (try the nomenclature of the geologic time scale) and the intertwining of the personal story of a fascinating man (in this case a professor of geology from Princeton) is simply remarkable. Presenting the story of faulting as the explanation for the basin and range of the Far West, McPhee takes in the history of geology, its conflict with the Biblical age of 4004BC as the start of the earth, its conversion from ‘earth forces’ to tectonic plates and ocean crust, the mining of silver, the western migration of the settlers, etc, etc, etc to write an engrossing story and an informative introduction to his larger volumes of geologic exploration. This is as good an introduction to deep time and the forces which created our earth as one can hope for. Worth re-reading again someday when I’m back in Utah or Nevada.