In Suspect TerrainAnnals of the Former World (Volume 2)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
From the outwash plains of Brooklyn to Indiana's drifted diamonds and gold, John McPhee's In Suspect Terrain is a narrative of the earth, told in four sections of equal length, each in a different way reflecting the three others-- a biography; a set piece about a fragment of Appalachian landscape in illuminating counterpoint to the human history there; a modern collision of ideas about the origins of the mountain range; and, in contrast, a century-old collision of ideas about the existence of the Ice Age. The central figure is Anita Harris, an internationally celebrated geologist who went into her profession to get out of a Brooklyn ghetto. The unifying theme is plate tectonics-- here concentrating on the acceptance that all aspects of the theory do not universally enjoy. As such, In Suspect Terrain is a report from the rough spots at the front edge of a science.
In Suspect Terrain is the second book in a series on geology and geologists, presenting a cross section of North America along the fortieth parallel, and gathered under the overall title Annals of the Former World. The other books in the series are Basin and Range, Rising from the Plains, and Assembling California.
In Suspect Terrain
The paragraph that follows is an encapsulated history of the eastern United States, according to plate-tectonic theory and glacial geology.
About a thousand million years ago, a continent of unknown dimensions...
Praise for In Suspect Terrain
“This is a book you cannot put down...It provides a great deal of information about the way many geologists think about science...and about the necessity for continual questioning and revising of new and old ideas. This is the best way science can remain healthy and continue to grow.” —Robert D. Hatcher, Jr., Natural History
“John McPhee is our best and liveliest writer about the earth and earth sciences. He overspreads his territory like an ice sheet, and yet his touch is light. He can distribute silt and sand as deftly as he wears down mountains.” —Wallace Stegner, Los Angeles Times Book Review