The introductory volume to McPhee's series of geological books, now completed and christened Annals of the Former World. McPhee here is working hard to reconcile two decades of writing, in which he documents a young science that changed significantly as he was writing; there's some fine writing here, but there's less scope McPhee's superb portraiture of dedicated experts than in his other books. I found the exegisis of time dull, but of because I'm a chemist (and did a certain amount of astronomy too, back in the day) I'm accustomed to working with very large and very small numbers.

It's not Looking for a Ship, perhaps, but it's good enough.