Encounters with the Archdruid

Narratives About a Conservationist and Three of His Natural Enemies

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708630

Category: Nature

Page: 256

View: 1641

The narratives in this book are of journeys made in three wildernesses - on a coastal island, in a Western mountain range, and on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The four men portrayed here have different relationships to their environment, and they encounter each other on mountain trails, in forests and rapids, sometimes with reserve, sometimes with friendliness, sometimes fighting hard across a philosophical divide.

Encounters with the Archdruid

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 0374148228

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 245

View: 8272

Depicts the problems which ensue when a mining engineer, a resort developer, and a civil engineer alternately confront a militant conservationist

The Control of Nature

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708495

Category: Nature

Page: 272

View: 7680

While John McPhee was working on his previous book, Rising from the Plains, he happened to walk by the engineering building at the University of Wyoming, where words etched in limestone said: "Strive on--the control of Nature is won, not given." In the morning sunlight, that central phrase--"the control of nature"--seemed to sparkle with unintended ambiguity. Bilateral, symmetrical, it could with equal speed travel in opposite directions. For some years, he had been planning a book about places in the world where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature, about (in the words of the book itself) "any struggle against natural forces--heroic or venal, rash or well advised--when human beings conscript themselves to fight against the earth, to take what is not given, to rout the destroying enemy, to surround the base of Mt. Olympus demanding and expecting the surrender of the gods." His interest had first been sparked when he went into the Atchafalaya--the largest river swamp in North America--and had learned that virtually all of its waters were metered and rationed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project called Old River Control. In the natural cycles of the Mississippi's deltaic plain, the time had come for the Mississippi to change course, to shift its mouth more than a hundred miles and go down the Atchafalaya, one of its distributary branches. The United States could not afford that--for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all the industries that lie between would be cut off from river commerce with the rest of the nation. At a place called Old River, the Corps therefore had built a great fortress--part dam, part valve--to restrain the flow of the Atchafalaya and compel the Mississippi to stay where it is. In Iceland, in 1973, an island split open without warning and huge volumes of lava began moving in the direction of a harbor scarcely half a mile away. It was not only Iceland's premier fishing port (accounting for a large percentage of Iceland's export economy) but it was also the only harbor along the nation's southern coast. As the lava threatened to fill the harbor and wipe it out, a physicist named Thorbjorn Sigurgeirsson suggested a way to fight against the flowing red rock--initiating an all-out endeavor unique in human history. On the big island of Hawaii, one of the world's two must eruptive hot spots, people are not unmindful of the Icelandic example. McPhee went to Hawaii to talk with them and to walk beside the edges of a molten lake and incandescent rivers. Some of the more expensive real estate in Los Angeles is up against mountains that are rising and disintegrating as rapidly as any in the world. After a complex coincidence of natural events, boulders will flow out of these mountains like fish eggs, mixed with mud, sand, and smaller rocks in a cascading mass known as debris flow. Plucking up trees and cars, bursting through doors and windows, filling up houses to their eaves, debris flows threaten the lives of people living in and near Los Angeles' famous canyons. At extraordinary expense the city has built a hundred and fifty stadium-like basins in a daring effort to catch the debris. Taking us deep into these contested territories, McPhee details the strategies and tactics through which people attempt to control nature. Most striking in his vivid depiction of the main contestants: nature in complex and awesome guises, and those who would attempt to wrest control from her--stubborn, often ingenious, and always arresting characters.

Coming into the Country

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9780374706074

Category: Travel

Page: 438

View: 8484

Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush. Readers of McPhee's earlier books will not be unprepared for his surprising shifts of scene and ordering of events, brilliantly combined into an organic whole. In the course of this volume we are made acquainted with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the outlook of a young Athapaskan chief, and tales of the fortitude of settlers—ordinary people compelled by extraordinary dreams. Coming into the Country unites a vast region of America with one of America's notable literary craftsmen, singularly qualified to do justice to the scale and grandeur of the design.

Annals of the Former World

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708460

Category: Science

Page: 448

View: 8007

The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years Twenty years ago, when John 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, this is our finest popular survey of geology and a masterpiece of modern nonfiction. Annals of the Former World is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Levels of the Game

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708657

Category: Sports & Recreation

Page: 160

View: 4559

This account of a tennis match played by Arthur Ashe against Clark Graebner at Forest Hills in 1968 begins with the ball rising into the air for the initial serve and ends with the final point. McPhee provides a brilliant, stroke-by-stroke description while examining the backgrounds and attitudes which have molded the players' games.

The Founding Fish

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9780374706340

Category: Nature

Page: 368

View: 4945

John McPhee's twenty-sixth book is a braid of personal history, natural history, and American history, in descending order of volume. Each spring, American shad-Alosa sapidissima-leave the ocean in hundreds of thousands and run heroic distances upriver to spawn. McPhee--a shad fisherman himself--recounts the shad's cameo role in the lives of George Washington and Henry David Thoreau. He fishes with and visits the laboratories of famous ichthyologists; he takes instruction in the making of shad darts from a master of the art; and he cooks shad in a variety of ways, delectably explained at the end of the book. Mostly, though, he goes fishing for shad in various North American rivers, and he "fishes the same way he writes books, avidly and intensely. He wants to know everything about the fish he's after--its history, its habits, its place in the cosmos" (Bill Pride, The Denver Post). His adventures in pursuit of shad occasion the kind of writing--expert and ardent--at which he has no equal.

Irons in the Fire

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708479

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 216

View: 1143

In this collection John McPhee once agains proves himself as a master observer of all arenas of life as well a powerful and important writer.

Uncommon Carriers

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 9780865477391

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 256

View: 3551

McPhee, in prose distinguished by its warm humor, keen insight, and rich sense of human character, looks at the people who drive trucks, captain ships, pilot towboats, drive coal trains, and carry lobsters through the air: people who work in freight transportation.

Oranges

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708703

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 149

View: 7406

A classic of reportage, Oranges was first conceived as a short magazine article about oranges and orange juice, but the author kept encountering so much irresistible information that he eventually found that he had in fact written a book. It contains sketches of orange growers, orange botanists, orange pickers, orange packers, early settlers on Florida's Indian River, the first orange barons, modern concentrate makers, and a fascinating profile of Ben Hill Griffin of Frostproof, Florida who may be the last of the individual orange barons. McPhee's astonishing book has an almost narrative progression, is immensely readable, and is frequently amusing. Louis XIV hung tapestries of oranges in the halls of Versailles, because oranges and orange trees were the symbols of his nature and his reign. This book, in a sense, is a tapestry of oranges, too—with elements in it that range from the great orangeries of European monarchs to a custom of people in the modern Caribbean who split oranges and clean floors with them, one half in each hand.

Heirs of General Practice

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708525

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 132

View: 6534

Heirs of General Practice is a frieze of glimpses of young doctors with patients of every age—about a dozen physicians in all, who belong to the new medical specialty called family practice. They are people who have addressed themselves to a need for a unifying generalism in a world that has become greatly subdivided by specialization, physicians who work with the "unquantifiable idea that a doctor who treats your grandmother, your father, your niece, and your daughter will be more adroit in treating you." These young men and women are seen in their examining rooms in various rural communities in Maine, but Maine is only the example. Their medical objectives, their successes, the professional obstacles they do and do not overcome are representative of any place family practitioners are working. While essential medical background is provided, McPhee's masterful approach to a trend significant to all of us is replete with affecting, and often amusing, stories about both doctors and their charges.

Pieces of the Frame

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708606

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 320

View: 3804

Pieces of the Frame is a gathering of memorable writings by one of the greatest journalists and storytellers of our time. They take the reader from the backwoods roads of Georgia, to the high altitude of Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico; from the social decay of Atlantic City, to Scotland, where a pilgrimage for art's sake leads to a surprising encounter with history on a hilltop with a view of a fifth of the entire country. McPhee's writing is more than informative; these are stories, artful and full of character, that make compelling reading. They play with and against one another, so that Pieces of the Frame is distinguished as much by its unity as by its variety. Subjects familiar to McPhee's readers-sports, Scotland, conservation-are treated here with intimacy and a sense of the writer at work.

Silk Parachute

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 142998581X

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 240

View: 2702

A WONDROUS NEW BOOK OF MCPHEE'S PROSE PIECES—IN MANY ASPECTS HIS MOST PERSONAL IN FOUR DECADES The brief, brilliant essay "Silk Parachute," which first appeared in The New Yorker a decade ago, has become John McPhee's most anthologized piece of writing. In the nine other pieces here— highly varied in length and theme—McPhee ranges with his characteristic humor and intensity through lacrosse, long-exposure view-camera photography, the weird foods he has sometimes been served in the course of his reportorial travels, a U.S. Open golf championship, and a season in Europe "on the chalk" from the downs and sea cliffs of England to the Maas valley in the Netherlands and the champagne country of northern France. Some of the pieces are wholly personal. In luminous recollections of his early years, for example, he goes on outings with his mother, deliberately overturns canoes in a learning process at a summer camp, and germinates a future book while riding on a jump seat to away games as a basketball player. But each piece—on whatever theme—contains somewhere a personal aspect in which McPhee suggests why he was attracted to write about the subject, and each opens like a silk parachute, lofted skyward and suddenly blossoming with color and form.

Giving Good Weight

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708576

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 261

View: 8434

"You people come into the market—the Greenmarket, in the open air under the down pouring sun—and you slit the tomatoes with your fingernails. With your thumbs, you excavate the cheese. You choose your stringbeans one at a time. You pulp the nectarines and rape the sweet corn. You are something wonderful, you are—people of the city—and we, who are almost without exception strangers here, are as absorbed with you as you seem to be with the numbers on our hanging scales." So opens the title piece in this collection of John McPhee's classic essays, grouped here with four others, including "Brigade de Cuisine," a profile of an artistic and extraordinary chef; "The Keel of Lake Dickey," in which a journey down the whitewater of a wild river ends in the shadow of a huge projected dam; a report on plans for the construction of nuclear power plants that would float in the ocean; and a pinball shoot-out between two prizewinning journalists.

Looking for a Ship

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 1429958111

Category: Transportation

Page: 242

View: 5869

This is an extraordinary tale of life on the high seas aboard one of the last American merchant ships, the S.S. Stella Lykes, on a forty-two-day journey from Charleston down the Pacific coast of South America. As the crew of the Stella Lykes makes their ocean voyage, they tell stories of other runs and other ships, tales of disaster, stupidity, greed, generosity, and courage.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0

Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America

Author: Thomas L. Friedman

Publisher: Picador

ISBN: 9781429963688

Category: Political Science

Page: 528

View: 8568

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year A Washington Post Best Book of the Year A Businessweek Best Business Book of the Year A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America's urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world's middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet--one that is "hot, flat, and crowded." In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession. The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long time--nation-building in America--by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources. Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge--and the promise--of the future.

The Survival of the Bark Canoe

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708592

Category: Social Science

Page: 160

View: 565

In Greenville, New Hampshire, a small town in the southern part of the state, Henri Vaillancourt makes birch-bark canoes in the same manner and with the same tools that the Indians used. The Survival of the Bark Canoe is the story of this ancient craft and of a 150-mile trip through the Maine woods in those graceful survivors of a prehistoric technology. It is a book squarely in the tradition of one written by the first tourist in these woods, Henry David Thoreau, whose The Maine Woods recounts similar journeys in similar vessel. As McPhee describes the expedition he made with Vaillancourt, he also traces the evolution of the bark canoe, from its beginnings through the development of the huge canoes used by the fur traders of the Canadian North Woods, where the bark canoe played the key role in opening up the wilderness. He discusses as well the differing types of bark canoes, whose construction varied from tribe to tribe, according to custom and available materials. In a style as pure and as effortless as the waters of Maine and the glide of a canoe, John McPhee has written one of his most fascinating books, one in which his talents as a journalist are on brilliant display.

The John McPhee Reader

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708584

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 385

View: 2401

The John McPhee Reader, first published in 1976, is comprised of selections from the author's first twelve books. In 1965, John McPhee published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are; a decade later, he had published eleven others. His fertility, his precision and grace as a stylist, his wit and uncanny brilliance in choosing subject matter, his crack storytelling skills have made him into one of our best writers: a journalist whom L.E. Sissman ranked with Liebling and Mencken, who Geoffrey Wolff said "is bringing his work to levels that have no measurable limit," who has been called "a master craftsman" so many times that it is pointless to number them.

The Man Who Built the Sierra Club

A Life of David Brower

Author: Robert Wyss

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231541317

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 400

View: 6518

David Brower (1912–2000) was a central figure in the modern environmental movement. His leadership, vision, and elegant conception of the wilderness forever changed how we approach nature. In many ways, he was a twentieth-century Thoreau. Brower transformed the Sierra Club into a national force that challenged and stopped federally sponsored projects that would have dammed the Grand Canyon and destroyed hundreds of millions of acres of our nation's wilderness. To admirers, he was tireless, passionate, visionary, and unyielding. To opponents and even some supporters, he was contentious and polarizing. As a young man growing up in Berkeley, California, Brower proved himself a fearless climber of the Sierra Nevada's dangerous peaks. After serving in the Tenth Mountain Division during World War II, he became executive director of the Sierra Club. This uncompromising biography explores Brower's role as steward of the modern environmental movement. His passionate advocacy destroyed lifelong friendships and, at times, threatened his goals. Yet his achievements remain some of the most important triumphs of the conservation movement. What emerges from this unique portrait is a rich and robust profile of a leader who took up the work of John Muir and, along with Rachel Carson, made environmentalism the cause of our time.

A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708665

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 256

View: 9044

In this unique book, John McPhee takes us into the world of several fascinating people. His inimitable style reveals the intricate details of his characters' lives. 1. Thomas P. F. Hoving 2. Euell Gibbons 3. M.I.T. Fellows in Africa 4. Robert Twynam, of Wimbledon 5. Temple Fielding