• Rising From the Plains

  • Annals of the Former World, Book 3
  • By: John McPhee
  • Narrated by: Nelson Runger
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (270 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Annals of the Former World is the result of a 20-year journey. During that time, John McPhee, author of 25 books and noted writer for The New Yorker, crisscrossed the United States, roughly following the 40th parallel. The geological insights and wonderful descriptions McPhee packed into his accounts of these trips earned his remarkable book a Pulitzer Prize.

The third part of that book, Rising From the Plains, takes McPhee to the high country of Utah along the Continental Divide. His guide is David Love, "the grand old man of Rocky Mountain geology". Helping McPhee see the physical changes that have shaped this region over millions of years, Love also traces his own family's history in this oil-rich, windswept land. As McPhee climbs into the granite landscape of the Rockies, Rising From the Plains creates a fascinating picture of the interdependence of geology, commerce, and culture. Nelson Runger's clear narration further enhances McPhee's engaging text.

Listen to more books in the Annals of the Former World collection.
©1986 John McPhee (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"A delight." (The New York Times Book Review
"Narrator Nelson Runger...keeps the listener interested in even the most technical explanations, using pauses and emphasis to maintain clarity." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Rising From the Plains

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Geologic Hell Breaks Loose Again

I am nearly finished with the individual portions of' Annals of the Former World' ('Basin and Range' ☑, 'In Suspect Terrain' ☑, 'Assembling California' ☑). All I have left is to read the section 'Crossing the Craton' (a sixty page addition to his 40th parallel/I-80 project that filled in the blank in the map and allowed the publishers of 'Annals of the Former World' some additional McPhee text not found in the four main books/sections previously published to incentivize McPhee's fans to fork out the addtional $35 in 1998 to get the whole brilliant McPhee mess).

I read/listened to these books a little out of order over a little over the last year. I started off well with 'Basin & Range', 'In Suspect Terrain', but then jumped to 'Assembling California' since a couple of weeks ago I was going to be driving through California and figured it would be nice to have some geology of the geography I was going to be driving through next to me.

While I was a little disappointed with 'Assembling California', I loved 'Rising from the Plains'. I don't know if it was a return to my roots (Wyoming and Snake River and Mormon Country), or the fact that this book seemed just to excite McPhee more. You could tell he loved the Loves (David Love: Yale educated geologist, cowboy; John Love: David's father, mirthful Scot rancher/cowboy, nephew of John Muir; Ethel Waxham Love: David's mother, teacher, writer). He threads this family's golden personality and history with the geology and geography of Wyoming.

These books are dangerous and should not be given to children. I am keeping them locked up with my William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, etc. If my son or daughter (no field geology sexist me) were to discover these McPhee books too young (s)he might just grow up to be a passionate field geologist. Reading this as I near my 40s, McPhee almost makes me want to take up a hammer, hop on a horse and ride into the mountains.

I give it four stars, simply because 'Coming into the Country' still exists for me as a slightly better book, but I think the combined energy of all of the 'Annals' is definitely amazing. I've grown to appreciate the narrative skills of Nelson Runger, although he went back and forth calling the Uinta Mountains at times the [WINtas) and at other times properly the (YOU-IN-tas). Anyway, a minor issue, but not overly distracting.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific Read

This book is an extremely well-written & informative blend of science and history. While Wyoming geology is the book's primary focus, the story has a profoundly human quality, tracing as it does the 100-year history of a lively and memorable family of Wyoming homesteaders. If you are scientifically curious and love good writing, you'll treasure this one.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow.

McPhee is an amazing writer. I love geology, but he makes it positively lush and compelling to listen to. I am so glad Audible added this to their collection. Thanks!!

7 people found this helpful

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Five Stars in All Categories

Would you listen to Rising From the Plains again? Why?

I would again, even though I've just finished listening to it twice through. I feel that this is McPhee's best work, synthesizing Wyoming's fascinating geologic complexities within the framework of a pioneering generational American family story. This is the author at his very best, and Nelson Runger's narration is also top-notch.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The central figure of course: the late David Love, eminent geologist.

Have you listened to any of Nelson Runger’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Everything he narrates seems to be a flawless work of vocal art.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Not extreme, but yes- McPhee's wily sense of humor is always present. Thus laughter.

Any additional comments?

If you're heading for the Grand Tetons or the Wind River Range, or just to Jackson Hole, give this a listen before and during your visit.

2 people found this helpful

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interesting

My husband was born in Wyoming so the personal interest story was very interesting to me. The geological part was a bit dry but great information. I wish it had more of the personal interest story part.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Not bad.

If you could sum up Rising From the Plains in three words, what would they be?

Informative, real, inspiring.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The author combines the hard science with a little bit of a biography that is not distracting from the pertinent geo stuff.

Have you listened to any of Nelson Runger’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No but I will now.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

2 people found this helpful

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Rising from the Plains: Classic McPhee...a classic in itself.

This is a classic...McPhee weaves a story of the settling of the Great Plains centered in Wyoming along with a rich geologic interpretation of the area proffered by the main character, David Love, a distinguished geologist affiliated with the USGS and Univ. of Wyoming, and grandson of John Muir, who was born and raised on a ranch in Wyoming and who is a widely respected field geologist. Love's tales of the old west are priceless. Many environmental issues around extraction of resources and water rights in the west are also raised throughout. A great book for the educated lay person to get a handle on the geology and culture of Wyoming region.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Most enjoyable McPhee thus far

My only complaint lies with narration that doesn’t study beforehand the pronunciation of regional and especially indigenous names. This is a common no-brainer mistake that leads to listeners imbedding weird/wrong versions of words. Blackstone and Randomhouse and others could all use improvements therein.

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Rising From the Plains

The story combined with the science brings the interaction between man and earth brightly alive.

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great. as with most of his books.

I enjoyed this book immediately and right through to the end. I will listen to this one again and recommend it to others.

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