Synopses & Reviews
Bitter cold and constant snow. Polar bears, seals, and killer whales. Victor Frankenstein chasing his monstrous creation across icy terrain in a dogsled. The arctic calls to mind a myriad different images. Consisting of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, the United States, Russia, Greenland, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the arctic possesses a unique ecosystemandmdash;temperatures average negative 29 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and rarely rise above freezing in summerandmdash;and the indigenous peoples and cultures that live in the region have had to adapt to the harsh weather conditions. As global temperatures rise, the arctic is facing an environmental crisis, with melting glaciers causing grave concern around the world. But for all the renown of this frozen region, the arctic remains far from perfectly understood.and#160;In A History of the Arctic, award-winning polar historian John McCannon provides an engaging overview of the region that spans from the Stone Age to the present. McCannon discusses polar exploration and science, nation-building, diplomacy, environmental issues, and climate change, and the role indigenous populations have played in the arcticandrsquo;s story. Chronicling the history of each arctic nation, he details the many failed searches for a Northwest Passage and the territorial claims that hamper use of these waterways. He also explores the resources found in the arcticandmdash;oil, natural gas, minerals, fresh water, and fishandmdash;and describes the importance they hold as these resources are depleted elsewhere, as well as the challenges we face in extracting them.and#160;A timely assessment of current diplomatic and environmental realities, as well as the dire risks the region now faces, A History of the Arctic is a thoroughly engrossing book on the pastandmdash;and futureandmdash;of the top of the world.
"A remarkable voyage through the Arctic, from its misty past to contentious present. A graceful writer with a fine eye for telling detail, McCannon offers an exciting, broad-sweep tour. . . . A must-read volume for the general public and scholars alike."
"I have long sought an outstanding general environmental history of the Arctic only to be disappointed. John McCannonand#8217;s new work, A History of the Arctic
, admirably fills this need. McCannon is at his best in explaining for a broad audience the complex interactions of environment, ecosystems, and humans of all nationalities and cultures in the Arctic. It is a thoughtful, broadly-considered, and sometimes provocative study that offers a transnational perspective on the profound changes over time taking place in this significant region."
"A dazzling tour dhorizon. . . . Anyone who cares about the Arctic should read this sobering book. Lets hope his gloomy predictions are wrong. I suspect he is right." Klaus Dodds, Professor of Geopolitics, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway,
and#160;andldquo;This is one of the few books in English (as well as, arguably, the best one) to deal with these themes from a widely comprehensive circumpolar perspective rather that a strictly national one. The chapter andlsquo;Crusades,andrsquo; for example, deals with the great age of exploration, 1800andndash;1914, and examines not only those explorers familiar to English speakers, but also lesser-known Finns, Icelanders, Faroese, Greenlanders, and Russians. Indigenous people also figure large in these pages. This makes the book tremendously valuable; as an added bonus, it is approachably and engagingly written. It should serve for some considerable time as the standard work on the subject . . . Essential.andrdquo;
and#160;andldquo;John McCannon's book is a valuable and timely addition. . . . Itandrsquo;s never dull, and [McCannon] possesses a keen eye for detail, especially in chronicling the region's wildlife and the painful transition from exploration to exploitation. . . . This is a thoughtful, provocative study that should be read by anyone who cares about the Arctic's fate.andrdquo;
2013 Outstanding Academic Title Choice magazine
andldquo;Science on Ice
gives the reader a glimpse into the challenges of conducting field research in the extreme and isolated environments of the Arctic and Antarctic. I came away with a new appreciation of both the risks and adventures scientists experience, the creativity and adaptability they must possess to work in difficult conditions, and most of all, the fact that they are normal human beings with a strong sense of curiosity that fuels their work. This book will help us understand these distant reaches of our world, and it has enormous potential to spark the minds of future would-be scientists.andrdquo;
"Science on Ice
and#160;rightly casts those who are charged with finding out more about our changing planet as true modern era explorers. Exciting tales of helicopters, submarines and icebreakers, coupled with emotive personal experiences in the face of adversity serve to decimate the normally anodyne aura that Science carries. This book should be mandatory in all schools, careers departments, and polar fanaticsand#8217; coffee tables across the globe, and when there, I expect that Linderand#8217;s efforts will have more influence on the future of the poles than he could ever have dreamed."
andquot;What is science? Chris Linder and his journalist friends answer that question with exquisite photography and sensitive, informed writing as they journey with scientists to the polar regions. Through Science on Ice
, the reader participates in expeditions and becomes aware of the method of inquiry, known as Science, by which, with relevant foreknowledge, questions are asked such that with a bit of creativity (but sometimes under daunting conditions) answers result. Those answers bring new inquiry. . . . It's like a drug.andquot;
"A dazzling tour dand#8217;horizon. . . . Anyone who cares about the Arctic should read this sobering book. Letand#8217;s hope his gloomy predictions are wrong. I suspect he is right."and#160;
andldquo;Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised,andrdquo; wrote Apsley Cherry-Garrard of his time with the 1910 Scott expedition to the South Pole. And thatandrsquo;s how most of us still imagine polar expeditions: stolid men with ice riming their beards drawing sledges and risking death for scientific knowledge. But polar science has changed drastically over the past centuryandmdash;as Chris Linder shows us, brilliantly, with Science on Ice
An oceanographer and award-winning photographer, Linder chronicles four polar expeditions in this richly illustrated volume: to a teeming colony of Adandeacute;lie penguins, through the icy waters of the Bering Sea in spring, beneath the pack ice of the eastern Arctic Ocean, and over the lake-studded surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Each trip finds Linder teamed up with a prominent science journalist, and together their words and pictures reveal the day-to-day details of how science actually gets done at the poles. Breathtaking images of the stark polar landscape alternate with gritty, close-up shots of scientists working in the field, braving physical danger and brutal conditions, and working with remarkable technology designed to survive the polesandmdash;like robotic vehicles that chart undersea mountain rangesandmdash;as they gather crucial information about our planet's distant past, and the risks that climate change poses for its future.
The result is a combination travel book and paean toand#160;the hard work and dedication that underlies our knowledge of life on earth. Science on Ice takes readers to the farthest reaches of our planet; science has rarely been more excitingandmdash;or inspiring.
About the Author
John McCannon is assistant professor of history at Southern New Hampshire University and the author of Red Arctic: Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932andndash;1939.
Table of Contents
1. Origins: Introduction and Environmental Overview
2. Encounters: Prehistory and Early History to 1500 CE
3. Incursions: 1500 to 1800
4. Crusades: 1800 to 1914
5. Subjugations: 1914 to 1945
6. Contaminations: 1945 to 1991
7. Extinctions? 1991 to the Present