Books by John McPhee

SILK PARACHUTE by John McPhee
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 9, 2010

"Reading these vignettes is like finding the bean in the Twelfth Night cake—each is a surprising, rewarding delight."
Ten gem-quality bemusements from New Yorker veteran McPhee (Uncommon Carriers, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
UNCOMMON CARRIERS by John McPhee
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: June 1, 2006

"Read this colorful journalism and you will never view an 18-wheeler, freight train or UPS truck in quite the same way."
McPhee (The Founding Fish, 2002, etc.) rides the rails, sits shotgun in a tanker truck and climbs aboard a river towboat as he investigates the ways in which the staples of modern life travel from one place to another. Read full book review >
THE FOUNDING FISH by John McPhee
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

""I'm a shad fisherman," says McPhee. True, but also a talented portraitist of the fish, a Gilbert Stuart of the species, and a William Hogarth, too, sticking an elbow into the ribs of his obsession."
A blue-chip tour of the American shad from McPhee (Annals of the Former World, 1998, etc.), maestro of the extended essay, if not the fly rod. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1998

"Dexterous as ever, McPhee takes on the creation—early island arcs and vulcanism and microcontinents—and tells it with all the power and simplicity a genesis story deserves."
McPhee (Irons in the Fire, 1997, etc.) winds up his artful geohistory of the US by going deep into the heartland—Kansas, Nebraska—in pursuit of deep time: the Precambrian. Read full book review >
IRONS IN THE FIRE by John McPhee
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: April 1, 1997

"For old hands, more of the unique pleasures you have come to expect."
Nothing, it seems, is beyond McPhee's purview, and these seven essays (which first ran in the New Yorker) offer further evidence that in the right hands even the most prosaic of topics harbors an unsuspected richness of surprising facts and fancies. Read full book review >
THE RANSOM OF RUSSIAN ART by John McPhee
Released: Nov. 1, 1994

"A picturesque ramble through the margins of the Cold War."
A brisk and intriguing, if rather slight, tale of art-world skulduggery before the Iron Curtain was brought down. Read full book review >
ASSEMBLING CALIFORNIA by John McPhee
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

"Intolerable if one has no taste for mysteries beneath the soil; otherwise, riveting."
The final entry in McPhee's four-volume hymn to geology, known collectively as Annals of the Former World (most recently Rising from the Plains, 1986). Read full book review >
LOOKING FOR A SHIP by John McPhee
Released: Sept. 1, 1990

"This classic sea story, previously published in The New Yorker, also asks why America responds in slow motion to global conditions."
McPhee embarks on a cargo ship to South America, scouting the endangered life of the American Merchant Marine. Read full book review >
THE CONTROL OF NATURE by John McPhee
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: June 1, 1989

"First-rate."
Is it chutzpah? Read full book review >
RISING FROM THE PLAINS by John McPhee
Released: Oct. 6, 1986

"A rather specialized topic, but one which is presented with style and, in the portrait of Love and his family, with affection and grace as well."
The third installment of McPhee's ongoing series, Annals of the Former World. Read full book review >
LA PLACE DE LA CONCORDE SUISSE by John McPhee
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: May 7, 1984

"In today's Swiss view, disaffection balances perfectionism—but McPhee's is the version of a connoisseur, to be savored in itself."
A sparkling report—if that's what's wanted—on that choice anomaly, the Swiss Army: a 650,000-man militia, always battle-ready, in a country that hasn't fought a war for nearly five hundred years. Read full book review >
IN SUSPECT TERRAIN by John McPhee
Released: March 1, 1983

"With Basin and Range (1981) and this latest excursion, McPhee has done the same thing, stylishly, for the general reader."
With his usual flair McPhee embodies the driving spirit of geology's language—"crunching scum," "orogeny," "kettles," "kames"—in a running biography of Anita Harris, a plain-talking, practical-minded geologist who learned her earth science at Brooklyn College. Read full book review >
BASIN AND RANGE by John McPhee
Released: April 29, 1981

"In his usual spare prose (but in somewhat more than usually demanding scientific terms) McPhee succeeds in conveying the essence and excitement of the geologists' thinking."
Peripatetic journalist extraordinary McPhee takes a close, lucid, resonant look at the modern scenery of the western US from the perspective offered by an understanding of geological processes. Read full book review >
GIVING GOOD WEIGHT by John McPhee
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 26, 1979

"A mixed bag, then, best in its larger reaches."
Apart from the title piece itself, this collection of McPhee articles from The New Yorker doesn't really deliver full value. Read full book review >
COMING INTO THE COUNTRY by John McPhee
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 18, 1977

"Flecked with irony, written with rhythm and style—and more than the sum of its parts."
Alaska: the last frontier, a land of insulated stalwarts, climatic exigencies, and nineteen streams named Salmon. Read full book review >
THE JOHN MCPHEE READER by John McPhee
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Nov. 29, 1976

"Choice excerpts from a master craftsman."
The widely admired John McPhee is a modern journalist whose personal travelogs avoid the obtrusive presence or confessional tone common to many of his contemporaries. Read full book review >
THE SURVIVAL OF THE BARK CANOE by John McPhee
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Nov. 9, 1975

"Another unique profile by a master craftsman."
McPhee is one of the few contemporary writers whose own enthusiasm, acquisitive curiosity and delight in the minor marvels evokes a similar reader response. Read full book review >
PIECES OF THE FRAME by John McPhee
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: June 23, 1975

"Occasional reading—McPhee is one of the most unobtrusively instructive and pleasurable writers around."
As everyone knows, McPhee is a man of many parts and interests and this is an assortment of his casuals which take place here and there. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 1974

"McPhee's warm portrayal of Taylor and his detailed assessment of current security practices will make your fears mushroom."
"I think we have to live with the expectation that once every four or five years a nuclear explosion will take place and kill a lot of people." Read full book review >
THE DELTOID PUMPKIN SEED by John McPhee
Released: July 9, 1973

"Singular indeed, as is the story — a gleam in the visionary eyes of lighter-than-air devotees and McPhee, as always, gives it the benefit of his effortlessly precise and polished reportage."
What looks like a deltoid pumpkin seed, not quite an airship or an airplane but an "aerobody," figured out by a computer and made of styrofoam, balsa wood and orange silk — this is the Aeron which a special and assorted group of "helium heads" have been trying to get off the ground. Read full book review >
WIMBLEDON by John McPhee
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: May 15, 1972

"Notwithstanding this is a luxury item at the price — only for those who so love the game that they know the value of a steel racket."
McPhee's text — a chapter on Wimbledon 1970 and one describing the work of lawnskeeper Robert Twynam — is as well executed as a service ace, although you might have read it all before in The New Yorker or A Roomful of Hovings (1968) where the Twynam piece has previously appeared or Playboy which ran the other one last year. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 6, 1971

"Like all McPhee's work, sensitive and responsible."
The archdruid is David Brower, former executive director of the Sierra Club and a militant conservationist of spectacular accomplishments, and this a pointillist portrait of Brower in situ among gifted representatives of the Enemy — a mineral engineer, a developer and a governmental dam czar. Read full book review >
THE CROFTER AND THE LAIRD by John McPhee
HISTORY
Released: June 1, 1970

"Original appearance in The New Yorker."
An amusing and delightful miniature concerning the Scottish island of Colonsay, seventeen square miles of dews and damp twenty-five miles off the coast. Mr. McPhee and his family, descendants after many misty generations, of a clan which had been overcome by a pack of MacDonalds on Colonsay, visited on the island and became acquainted with the 138 people living serenely thereon. Read full book review >
LEVELS OF THE GAME by John McPhee
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 23, 1969

"Your advantage."
From The New Yorker where it appeared as a two-part profile, this is the kind of job that Mr. McPhee did on Bill Bradley (A Sense of Where You Are — 1965) and gives an on and off court photomontage of Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner at Forest Hills. Read full book review >
THE PINE BARRENS by John McPhee
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: April 29, 1968

"All in all, enlivened facts, some well remembered events, and the customary pleasant softshoe styling."
This is one of John McPhee's extended profiles (The Headmaster, Oranges, etc.) guessably of New Yorker derivation. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 21, 1966

"A casual autocrat, he's a wonderful presence in print as he must be to all those who have known him."
From The New Yorker, this effortless portrait of Frank Learoyd Boyden, who came to Deerfield Academy in 1902 at the age of twenty-two and is still, in his own words, an "indestructible and infallible" figure, is full of life—a remarkable life. Read full book review >
A SENSE OF WHERE YOU ARE by John McPhee
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 27, 1965

"Twenty-one, and an Olympic champion, he has retired to the cloisters!"
What a rare sports book! Read full book review >