Back in the days of yore, when what we now call “longreads” where
simply New Yorker articles, giants such as John McPhee bestrode the
Earth, writing detailed inimitable books about subjects like geology.
The Control of Nature is about mankind’s attempt to control vast
amounts of material propelled by gravity - water, in the form of the
Mississippi River; lava, i.e. most of Iceland; and the fast-rising San
Gabriel mountains, which inconvenience Los Angeles properties by
insisting on eroding.
In each of these cases, Man in his hubris has erected vast structures
and machinery to protect material values threatened by Nature, which
is essentially the theme of the book. McPhee is not optimistic on
Man’s chances in the long run.
The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed is about a bunch of New Jersey dudes trying
to build a new airship. The effort peters out shortly after the events
covered in the book (early 1971) and now the only mention of the
company involved cite this book. So it goes.
The Crofter and the Laird - McPhee spends a summer on the remote island in the Hebrides wherefrom his ancestors sprung - Colonsay. The book paints an elegiac picture of a world in decline, so I was happy to read that the island has actually increased in population according to Wikipedia.