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In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscapeby Gretel Ehrlich
Synopses & Reviews
In this gripping circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle, Gretel Ehrlich paints a vivid portrait of the indigenous cultures that inhabit the starkly beautiful boreal landscape surrounding the Arctic Ocean, an ice-bound wilderness that includes northern Siberia, northwestern Greenland, Canadas vast Nunavut, and northern Alaska. Ehrlichs expedition, supported by the National Geographic Society, documents what remains of these cultures, specifically the similarities and differences among them, including hunting traditions, shamanic and ceremonial practices, languages and legends—the ways in which they have survived, or have been assimilated, and how they are adapting to the impact of climate change on their ice-age cultures.
Ehrlich is fascinated by what she calls the ecology of culture—the ways in which the human presence of indigenous Arctic people is intricately interwoven with land, rock, river, sea, and ice. Depicting human-caused climate change as only the latest and most destructive of the ills and abuses first peoples have been suffering for 250 years, Ehrlichs haunting and lovely prose portrays ancient tribes and traditions on the edge of extinction and captures the austere beauty of their various lifeways in the frozen dreamscape of the world they have always known.
Book News Annotation:
Award-winning nature writer, Gretel Ehrlich, chronicles her year-long circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle documenting the environmental and human impact of global warming, in this passionately written account of receding ice and dying traditions. Organized geographically with chapters devoted to Alaska's Bering Strait, Northwestern Russia, Canada's arctic Nanavut region, and Greenland, the work records oral histories of indigenous arctic peoples and documents their struggles to adapt to a changing ecosystem. Focusing on the importance of both biological and cultural diversity, this volume is a meaningful addition to existing literature on climate change. A map of the Arctic Circle, a description of the National Geographic Expedition Council which sponsored the expedition, and a detailed bibliography are included. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Gretel Ehrlich is well known for her prize-winning essays, fiction, and poetry. Her acclaimed 2002 book This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland chronicled the first years of a lasting fascination with the high latitudes. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies including: Best Essays of the Century, Best American Essays, and Best Travel Writing.
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