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Table of Contents

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  319 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
First published in book form 1985, Table of Contents is a collection of eight pieces written by John McPhee between 1981 and 1984. Geographically and thematically, they range from Alaska to New Jersey, describing, for example, the arrival of telephones in a small village near the Arctic Circle and the arrival of wild bears in considerable numbers in New Jersey, swarming in ...more
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published October 7th 1985 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1985)
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Julie
Jul 05, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most interesting collection of topics. McPhee's easy writing style kept me fascinated as I read essays on new phone lines in remote Alaska and bears in New Jersey to family practice doctors in Maine. I often enjoy his immersion essays in The New Yorker.
Smarcus25
Sep 06, 2008 Smarcus25 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John McPhee uses a very personal voice in his essay “North of the C.P. Line,” something he usually does not do. He begins the essay by describing what he does for a living: “...moving around from place to place, person to person, as a reporter, a writer, repeatedly trying to sense another existence and in some ways to share it.” By writing this, he presents himself as an ordinary guy who enjoys learning and writing about other people. He is also implying that he tries so hard to understand every ...more
Nikcole
Jun 29, 2014 Nikcole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The collection of creative non-fiction short stories that make up Table of Contents more than earns the description captivating. Eight stories take the reader deep into the heart of a particular subject matter, focusing all of John McPhee’s exciting energy on them. He manages to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary, only using the gift of words.
Under the Snow and A Textbook Place for Bears were vastly interesting stories focusing on the research work that goes into tracking bear
...more
Carl R.
Apr 26, 2015 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've admired John McPhee's writing for a long time and hadn't read anything for quite a while, so I picked up Table of Contents at a charity book sale and went at it. What a good choice. Master of the aphoristic sentence ([The doctor] delivered [the patient, a woodcutter] some preventive medicine, cut, split, and stacked.), McPhee describes so many people, places, and careers in such clear language that you think you've been there and met them.

I had read a couple of the articles years ago, but t
...more
Jonathon
Sep 19, 2011 Jonathon rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
A really nice set of essays on a variety of topics. I particularly enjoyed the two stories about bears ("Under the Snow" and "A Textbook Place for Bears") and the story of his time with another John McPhee in the wilderness of Maine ("North of the C.P. Line"). "Ice Ponds" was a surprisingly fascinating account of the early development of a method for cooling buildings by stocking up ice underground in the winter and using it to cool homes during the summer. It left me wondering what ever happene ...more
Jrobertus
Apr 03, 2011 Jrobertus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McPhee is the master of nonfiction narrative. This book has some extended essays that are engaging as usual. It includes a long section of a program in Maine to train family practice doctors, and he relates the stories of both patients and physicians. This seems a most worthwhile line of work, fulfilling a real need and a society of specialists. Another particularly fascinating essay dealt with a Maine wild life warden, also named John McPhee, who became a close friend of the author. His tales o ...more
Patty
I have always enjoyed John McPhee's essays and I found myself liking these as much as any I have read by him. The topics varied widely, from bears to Bill Bradley to alternative energy sources. They all held my interest and there were a couple of subjects that I wish he had written more about.

And that brings me to my only problem - these essays were all from the early 1980's. Some felt very dated. That is not a bad thing, just one of the problems with writing essays on topics of current concern.
...more
Allyson
Apr 01, 2011 Allyson rated it really liked it
I love this writer. I happened upon this book, a small gem while reshelving books @ my local library. The copyright date reads 1985 and it is interesting to note what he was writing about in that year and compare it to today- nuclear power, medical care/family practice medicine, and the state of the Maine Woods. I first started reading his offerings in The New Yorker in the late 80s and love him still. His words fly along, creating pictures and places with effortless momentum. I love reading any ...more
James
Jul 08, 2008 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McPhee continues to entertain me. This is a collection of shorter essays, on a number of topics. And I may have even liked this more than normal. There are places in each essay where for a page or two I feel like he loses his bearings, but it's the same sort of niche journalism that is his shtick.

Mini-hydro electric dams in New England, bringing power and telephones to small town Alaska, family practice doctors in Maine, a Maine game warden -named John McPhee, and bears in New Jersey.
Monty
Apr 19, 2015 Monty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting & fun read, although I'm sure most of the hard data and figures have changed considerably, since this was published about 30 years ago. Still, the occupations & observations are captivating.
Pam
May 04, 2010 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He is so fun to read, clearly a writer who gets into doing his research. This is a collection of eight eclectic writings - one on black bears, how family practice evolved from general medical practice, small hydropower, etc.
Janet
Jan 23, 2010 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by John McPhee that I ever read, and the first two essays hooked me forever. I re-read this every couple of years. He can write about anything at all and make it interesting.
Katie
Feb 20, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: planning-read
Home to the classic "Heirs of General Practice" - a primer for all new Mainers.
Cortney
So far, really great. But I left it in Vermont...
Sandy
Sep 16, 2009 Sandy marked it as started-not-finished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
another interesting McPhee book. He's quite a prolific writer, isn't he!
Anne
Sep 25, 2008 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite essay in this collection is "Heirs of the General Practice," in which McPhee uses rural Maine doctors to examine the huge problem of sub-specializations in modern medicine.
Tom Baker
Oct 11, 2015 Tom Baker rated it it was amazing
I've read most of John's books and always he is a master's master.
Mr. B
Nov 21, 2007 Mr. B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first books to get me excited about creative non-fiction, McPhee is a the quintessential "fly on the wall" reporter!
Mitch Grady
Jul 29, 2015 Mitch Grady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Confession: I didn't read the whole chapter on Bill Bradley. No interest whatsoever, even with such a great author.
Jessica
Oct 21, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature-science
Great collection of McPhee essays. Particularly loved the ones about Maine.
Elisa
Sep 29, 2008 Elisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John McPhee is better than a college education.
Veasey
Oct 21, 2013 Veasey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A series of short stories by John McPhee. Interesting ones included micro waterpower and a bush pilot in Maine
Kara
Dec 28, 2007 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McPhee just rules.
Kenny
Kenny rated it liked it
Mar 10, 2010
Stevegws
Stevegws rated it it was amazing
Jan 26, 2010
Betsy Mccall
Betsy Mccall rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2016
Keith Parks
Keith Parks rated it it was amazing
Apr 13, 2012
Meg Hefner
Meg Hefner rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2016
Siobhan
Siobhan rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2008
G
G rated it it was amazing
Jul 02, 2008
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John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with the New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967), The P ...more
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“Since most callers have until moments before been completely unaware that there are bears in New Jersey, there is often in their voices a component of alarm, up to and including terror. McConnell’s response is calmer than pavement. She speaks in tones that range from ho to hum. “Yes, there are bears in your area,” she says, and goes on to say, with an added hint of congratulation, “You live in beautiful bear habitat.” 1 likes
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