Winner of the 1986 National Book Award.
Synopses & Reviews
The Arctic doesn't spring to mind when most people think about autumn. Yet in his continuing effort to invite readers' curiosity through unpredictability, Pete Dunne chose to pair the transitional season of autumn with this fragile environment in flux.
The book begins on Bylot Island in Nunavut, Canada, at the retreating edge of the seasonal ice sheet, then moves to Alaska, where the needs of molting geese go head to head with society's need for oil. Then on to the Barren Lands of Canada, and a search for the celebrated caribou herds that mean life and death for human and animal predators alike.
A canoe trip down the John River is filled with memories, laughter, and contemplation; a caribou hunt with a professional trapper leads to a polemic on hunting; and Pete travels to an island in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska, to look for rare birds and ponder the passionate nature of competitive bird listers.
No trip to the Arctic would be complete without a trip to see polar bears, so Pete and his wife visit Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world. These majestic, but threatened, creatures lead Pete to think about his own life, our interactions with the natural world, and the importance of the Arctic, North America's last great wilderness.
"Jubilant....Barry Lopez lavishes his discoveries into a portfolio of delights."
The New York Times Book Review
"Wonderfully informed and evocative....Keen observation given shape with language that is deft and vivid." Chicago Tribune
"Rich, abundant, vigorously composed." The Boston Globe
"Part-rhapsody, part-history, it is a bifurcated book, and displays a magnificently nonchalant assurance at times (as when he says at one point that Eskimos are not 'errorless in the eyes of God')." New York Times Book Review
"One of the finest books ever written about the Far North, warmly appreciative and understanding of the natural forces that shape life in an austere landscape....[A] wonderful, compelling defense of the Arctic wilderness." Publishers Weekly
"For Lopez, how the Arctic is comprehended will determine its fate. Whether its land, peoples, and animals are honored or vitiated will depend upon the working out of this metaphorical analogy between mind and landscape." Library Journal
About the Author
Barry Lopez is the author of six works of nonfiction and eight works of fiction. His writing appears regularly in Harper's, The Paris Review, DoubleTake, and The Georgia Review. He is the recipient of a National Book Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and other honors. He lives in western Oregon.