About this item

The long-awaited guide to writing long-form nonfiction by the legendary author and teacher

Draft No. 4 is an elucidation of the writer's craft by a master practitioner. In a series of playful but expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he's gathered over his career and refined during his long-running course at Princeton University, where he has launched some of the most esteemed writers of several generations. McPhee offers a definitive guide to the crucial decisions regarding structure, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and presents extracts from some of his best-loved work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising -- and revising, and revising.

More than a compendium of advice, Draft No. 4 is enriched by personal detail and charming reflections on the life of a writer. McPhee describes his enduring relationships with The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and recalls his early years at Time magazine. Enlivened by his keen sense of writing as a way of being in the world, Draft No. 4 is the long-awaited master class given by America's most renowned writing instructor.

About the Author

John McPhee

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 Pine Barrens (1968) , A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles (collection, 1968) , Levels of the Game (1968) , The Crofter and the Laird (1970) , Encounters with the Archdruid (1971) , The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (1973) , The Curve of Binding Energy (1974) , Pieces of the Frame (collection, 1975) , and The Survival of the Bark Canoe (1975) . Both Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were nominated for National Book Awards. Selections from these books make up The John McPhee Reader (1976) .Since 1977, the year in which McPhee received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the bestselling Coming into the Country appeared in print, Farrar, Straus and Giroux has published Giving Good Weight (collection, 1979) , Basin and Range (1981) , In Suspect Terrain (1983) , La Place de la Concorde Suisse (1984) , Table of Contents (collection, 1985) , Rising from the Plains (1986) , Heirs of General Practice (in a paperback edition, 1986) , The Control of Nature (1989) , Looking for a Ship (1990) , Assembling California (1993) , The Ransom of Russian Art (1994) , The Second John McPhee Reader (1996) , Irons in the Fire (collection, 1997) , Annals of the Former World (1998) . Annals of the Former World, McPhee's tetralogy on geology, was published in a single volume in 1998 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. The Founding Fish was published in 2002.

Read Next Recommendation

Discuss with your friends

Report incorrect product information.