Basin and Range

Basin and Range



The Pequod Review:

Basin and Range is John McPhee’s broadest work to date, a review of the historical geological movements and plate tectonics along the 40th Parallel (or approximately Interstate-80, which stretches from northern California to New Jersey), and especially the dynamic territories of eastern California and eastern Nevada. McPhee’s prose is a delightful mix of intelligence and awe:

A million years is a short time – the shortest worth messing with for most problems. You begin tuning your mind to a time scale that is the planet’s time scale. For me, it is almost unconscious now and is a kind of companionship with the earth….If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever.