The Control of Nature

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708495

Category: Nature

Page: 272

View: 3586

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.

The Control of Nature

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 0374128901

Category: Nature

Page: 272

View: 2112

Profiles various effects by humankind to thwart the course of nature, detailing the changing physical landscapes, as well as the political, economic, and legal battles that have arisen from these struggles.

Designing the Bayous

The Control of Water in the Atchafalaya Basin, 1800-1995

Author: Martin Reuss

Publisher: Texas A&M University Press

ISBN: 160344632X

Category: BUSINESS & ECONOMICS

Page: 492

View: 9235

Originally published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this history of the Louisiana Atchafalaya Basin was hailed as a balanced yet unflinching account of the transformation of an area that has endured perhaps more human manipulation than any other natural environment in the nation. Reuss provides a new preface to bring us up-to-date on the state of the basin, which remains both an engineering contrivance and natural wonder.

Annals of the Former World

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9780374518738

Category: Science

Page: 712

View: 3195

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.

Assembling California

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9780374706029

Category: Science

Page: 303

View: 1508

At various times in a span of fifteen years, John McPhee made geological field surveys in the company of Eldridge Moores, a tectonicist at the University of California at Davis. The result of these trips is Assembling California, a cross-section in human and geologic time, from Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada through the golden foothills of the Mother Lode and across the Great Central Valley to the wine country of the Coast Ranges, the rock of San Francisco, and the San Andreas family of faults. The two disparate time scales occasionally intersect—in the gold disruptions of the nineteenth century no less than in the earthquakes of the twentieth—and always with relevance to a newly understood geologic history in which half a dozen large and separate pieces of country are seen to have drifted in from far and near to coalesce as California. McPhee and Moores also journeyed to remote mountains of Arizona and to Cyprus and northern Greece, where rock of the deep-ocean floor has been transported into continental settings, as it has in California. Global in scope and a delight to read, Assembling California is a sweeping narrative of maps in motion, of evolving and dissolving lands.

War and Nature

Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring

Author: Edmund Russell

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521799379

Category: History

Page: 315

View: 1688

A social narrative documents the close ties between chemical weapons development and “peaceful†applications in insect warfare, discussing the role of chemists and chemistry in military history and the changing attitude of war departments toward chemists.

The Founding Fish

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9780374706340

Category: Nature

Page: 368

View: 2865

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.

Coming Into the Country

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 9780374522872

Category: Nature

Page: 438

View: 2210

An account of a kayak and canoe journey through the Brooks Range wilderness, impressions of urban life and political activity, and portraits of people in the bush make up a study of contemporary Alaska

Uncommon Carriers

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 9780865477391

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 256

View: 9917

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.

Silent Spring

Author: Rachel Carson

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 9780618249060

Category: Nature

Page: 378

View: 1973

Discusses the reckless annihilation of fish and birds by the use of pesticides and warns of the possible genetic effects on humans.

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: 2084

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.

Oranges

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708703

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 149

View: 5574

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.

Levels of the Game

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Aurum Press

ISBN: 178131313X

Category:

Page: 176

View: 1059

Described by Robert Lipsyte as 'the high point of American sports journalism', John McPhee's Levels of the Game, nominally about a tennis match between two of the greats of tennis history, redefined what it meant to be a sports writer. Written by four-times finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction, Levels of the Game is the best tennis book ever written, dealing with human behaviour, race, politics and the divisions of the country, all told through a single game of tennis. Levels of the Game is a narrative of a tennis match played by Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner at Forest Hills in 1968, beginning with the ball rising into the air for the initial serve and ending with the final point. In between, McPhee provides a brilliant, stroke-by-stroke description, while examining the backgrounds and attitudes which have molded the players' games. Arthur Ashe thinks that Clark Graebner, a middle-class white conservative dentist's son from Cleveland, plays stiff and compact Republican tennis. Graebner acknowledges that this is true, and for his part thinks that, because Ashe is black and from Richmond, Ashe's tennis game is bold, loose, liberal, flat-out Democratic, When physical assets are about equal, psychology is paramount to any game.

Heirs of General Practice

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708525

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 132

View: 903

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.

Irons in the Fire

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708479

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 216

View: 8658

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.

Giving Good Weight

Author: John McPhee

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374708576

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 261

View: 9942

"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: 4011

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.

The Control Book

Author: Peter Masters

Publisher: BookBaby

ISBN: 0992326346

Category: Family & Relationships

Page: N.A

View: 7583

The Control Book is about the fine art of taking control of your partner. It's about the processes involved, about taking control, using control, about ensuring that you have control, and-importantly-about giving control back once you are done with it. The book discusses how this works-the psychology of it-and looks at what can go right, and at what can go wrong and how to fix it. It considers the role of authority in the equation, and looks at how to manage the control you have over someone so that it is both effective and rewarding for you both. I believe that a very large part of the activities which we include under the umbrella of BDSM rely explicitly or implicitly on control being asserted over one person by another. My goal in this book is to talk about control, explain what it is, demonstrate it, show how to take it, how to give it, how to manage it, and more. I want you, the reader, to be aware of the ebb and flow of control around you and through you.