While many readers are familiar with John McPhee's masterful pieces on a large scale (the geological history of North America, or the nature of Alaska), McPhee is equally remarkable when he considers the seemingly inconsequential. Oranges
was conceived as a short magazine piece, but thanks to his unparalleled investigative skills, became a slim, fact-filled book. As McPhee chronicles orange farmers struggling with frost and horticulturists' new breeds of citrus, oranges come to seem a microcosm of man's relationship with nature.
Like Flemish miniaturists who reveal the essence of humankind within the confines of a tiny frame, McPhee once again demonstrates that the smallest topic is replete with history, significance, and consequence.
"Fascinating. A sterling example of what a fresh point of view, a clear style, a sense of humor and diligent investigation can do to reveal the inherent interest in something as taken-for-granted as your morning orange juice." --Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
“It is a delicious book, in a word, and more absorbing than many a novel.” --Roderick Cook, Harper's