by John McPhee
The basin and range region, which occupies much of the land between Reno and Salt Lake City, is characterized by desert terrain and mountain ranges that run north-south, separated by valleys that do not drain to an ocean. I'd lived in this region -- and owned this book -- for a year and a half before two things finally made me read it. First, I visited Death Valley: surely one of the most stunning basins. And second, I spent a number of hours driving on US 6 through Nevada: a beautiful, isolated road that passes over a range, into a basin, over a range, into a basin -- dozens of times. Basin and Range explains the history of this region, but it is no dry geology text: McPhee weaves together facts about the land, anecdotes about modern-day geologists, and stories from the history of geology. The result is an example of the best kind of pop science: well written, informative without being too technical, and entertaining without being sensational.
copyright © 2002 John Regehr