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Table of Contents

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  257 ratings  ·  23 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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Smarcus25
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
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
Jonathon
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
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
Jrobertus
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
Allyson
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
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.
Pam
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
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.
Anne
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.
Mr. B
One of the first books to get me excited about creative non-fiction, McPhee is a the quintessential "fly on the wall" reporter!
Veasey Conway
A series of short stories by John McPhee. Interesting ones included micro waterpower and a bush pilot in Maine
Jessica
Great collection of McPhee essays. Particularly loved the ones about Maine.
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!
Scott
Classic John McPhee. 8 different pieces on a range of topics. Very enjoyable.
Katie
Home to the classic "Heirs of General Practice" - a primer for all new Mainers.
Bertport
John McPhee goes down easy, like good water when you're thirsty.
Cortney
So far, really great. But I left it in Vermont...
Elisa
John McPhee is better than a college education.
LDuchess
First edition? Good dust jacket, too.
Daniel
Micro-Hydro. It will electrify you.
Rich Biggs
Some nice pieces by McPhee.
Kara
McPhee just rules.
Bob Way
Bob Way marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2014
Alan Dupay
Alan Dupay marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2014
Rachel
Rachel marked it as to-read
Oct 12, 2014
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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.” 0 likes
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