Winner of the 1986 National Book Award.
It feels reductive to call Barry Lopez's work nature writing. He had a gift for taking the awe that the natural world can inspire and distilling it into prose. It is difficult to choose just one of his books to recommend — read them all! — but Arctic Dreams is exceptional. Epic in scope and execution, it covers every aspect of the Arctic: its Native peoples, flora, fauna, geology, explorers, climate. In Lopez's skilled hands the barren Arctic is transformed into a beautiful landscape teeming with life. His death late last year was a tremendous loss, but he continues to hold us together with his stories. Recommended By Emily B., Powells.com
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 three collections of essays, including Horizon; several story collections; Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award; Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist; and Crow and Weasel, a novella-length fable. He contributed regularly to both American and foreign journals and traveled to more than seventy countries to conduct research. He was the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundations and was honored by a number of institutions for his literary, humanitarian, and environmental work. He died in 2020.