The beauty of this large-format (9 by 12 inch) book of page-size maps and supporting material is that Blakey and Ranney designed it for their fellow professionals before deciding to expand its audience to the general public. The result is a solid reference work for the trade that is written with exceptional freedom from geologists' impenetrable shop talk. Truth be told, geologists appreciate this kind of writing too.
Beyond the maps, the authors present a unified history of the Grand Canyon and the Grand Staircase that is meant to stand alone. They also add a chapter, "Where to See the Rocks," that showcases 20 geological destinations in all parts of the Plateau. I especially like this because so many of the Plateau's parks sell their archaeology and biology over the great geology. I appreciate cliff dwellings and desert birds as much as the next person, but geology will always be my primary goal. I also especially like the fact that the authors add a few words for each major rock unit pointing out good places to visit them.
Here is an excerpt of the review for "Carving Grand Canyon":
Much improved and updated from its 2005 first edition, Carving Grand Canyon is a first-rate treatment of America's first and greatest geological destination by a geologist, educator and Grand Canyon guide. Everyone with a deep interest in Southwestern geology should have it handy.
Wayne Ranney (of wayneranney.com), who has called the Grand Canyon home for his whole professional life, is well equipped to explain what Canyon specialists know, think they know, and still argue about. And his many years of explaining the Canyon to students and touring visitors help make Carving Grand Canyon accessible to those new to geology.
I can only experience this book as an expert reader, so it may be that Ranney's deep dive into old literature and diverse evidence is too forbidding to the geological novice. But I find it enthralling, and I think that anyone whose professional life revolves around the Canyon—river guide, naturalist, park ranger or geology teacher—will find this new edition of Carving Grand Canyon a useful addition to their bookshelf. And I think any geologist with an interest in the Southwest will feel the same.
Thanks to Andrew Alden for the positive reviews of my books.