5.0 out of 5 stars Desert Island book
Funny that a book about the Arctic would be on my "Desert Island" list, but this is one of the most effecting things I've read in my life. It's one thing to write a book about a region that explains it to the reader. It's quite another thing to write a book about a region that truly makes you feel as if you are there, that you understand it, that you "get...
Published on April 28 2004 by Ryan McNabb
1.0 out of 5 stars What looms largest in this book. . .
is Lopez's denial (by neglect) of the work of Gontran De Poncins, the last competent observer of the Eskimo.
Published on Oct 26 1998
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars Desert Island book,
That's what this book does for you. It puts you there.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine writing,
I had mixed feelings aout his attiude towards the Eskimos. His account idealizes the nomadic hunting existence and it is sometimes unclear whether he is talking about present-day Inuit or drawing upon older accounts. He only once mentions alcohol as a problem and does not mention disputes with other native Americans, even when desribing Hearne's travels.
The description is largely limited to America and the bibliography has no Russian sources. He often uses Inuit words but his review of Arctic prehistory draws only on archeological evidence and is weak on linguistics and says nothing about the Chukchi language and Asian-American language links. DNA and blood groups are not mentioned.
I wouldn't make all those niggling criticisms about what got left out if the book did not set itself a high standard of comprehensiveness. It's virtually a one volume encyclopedia of the Arctic full of fascinating facts, vivid firsthand accounts, and splendid writing.
By the way, one arctic question's been bugging me since I was ten years old (the teacher didn't know the answer then and Lopez doesn't have it). What time is it at the North Pole?
5.0 out of 5 stars A Celebration Of The Arctic Landscape & Man's Dreams!,
Mr. Lopez made a number of extended trips to Siberia, Greenland, and northern Canada, including Baffin Island, to observe the flora and fauna of the region - polar bears, killer whales, caribou, narwhals - as well as the spectacular Arctic landscape. He experienced eerie encounters with the aurora borealis, massive migrating icebergs, solar and lunar light, halos and coronas. And he experienced both the potential for catastrophic danger and the remarkable beauty that the Arctic land and sea offers. "Spring storms can sweep hundreds of thousands of helpless infant harp seals into the sea" - juxtaposed with, "A tiny flower blooms in a field of snow touched by the sun's benevolent light." Through Mr. Lopez' eyes the breathtaking experience of the Arctic landscape and the people who inhabit it become palpably real. I was particularly moved by his intimate and compassionate descriptions of the indigenous people of this region, who so aptly illustrate how mankind is capable of living in harmony with his surroundings. Lopez' prose and his conclusions make the strongest argument possible to work for the ecological health of our planet, for the sake of life itself, and for the health of our imagination and sense of wonder at the magnificent.
As mankind grows closer to conquering the earth's last frontiers, the issue of exploitation and encroachment becomes greater. For anyone who advocates preserving the few remaining wild areas on our planet, "Arctic Dreams" is a welcome gift and a source of motivation. It also provides an extraordinary read, and, perhaps, an awakening to those who have shown little interest in earth's most mysterious places.
This is a magical book that will enchant and awe the reader. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Bravo, Barry Lopez!
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish someone could write about Australia like this!,
My edition has no photos, which is appropriate as the verbal description is superb. If you read this book, keep the internet handy, to use search engines to find photos of the places he and things he writes about. It's like having a limitless dictionary to hand, and with subject matter as unfamiliar as this, it helps tremendously. One could say that the book was 25 years ahead of its time.
4.0 out of 5 stars On being a polar bear,
Have you ever played the parlor game where you're supposed to tell which animal you'd prefer to be reincarnated as, and why? I'd never come up with a satisfactory animal, but I'd never thought of the Polar bear.
I'd like to be a Polar bear. Their winter dens sound lovely and I can imagine cradling a cub in my arms, leaning back against an ice floe and gazing off across the Arctic Sea. I'd love wearing the translucent white fur coat. (I wouldn't want to deprive an animal of one, but I'd love to grow my own.) Swimming has always been a favorite activity of mine, too, and with the fur coat I don't suppose I'd mind the ice water!
It's an amazing thing to empathize with an animal!
Lopez's descriptions of the arctic ice and seasons, the people, the history and cultures, all are enchanting. It's a wonderfully magical world, so different from the lands and peoples of the rest of the world. Lopez carves that world into our imaginations as skillfully as the ice sculptor renders his tools.
Summer is the perfect time to read this one; especially one of the hottest summers on record!
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating information,
5.0 out of 5 stars I started fantasizing about moving North.,
This book is a great read. It is thouroughly enjoyable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Arctic dreaming in the Arizona desert.,
In THE POWER OF MYTH (1988), Joseph Campbell says that when we destroy nature and the revelations of nature, we destroy our own nature, too. "What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself." This belief is the heartbeat of ARCTIC DREAMS. In his Preface, Lopez writes that "it is possible to live wisely on the land, and to live well. And in behaving respectfully toward all that the land contains, it is possible to imagine a stifling ignorance falling away from us" (p. xxviii). There are three themes at the center of his narrative: "the influence of the arctic landscape on the human imagination. How a desire to put a landscape to use shapes our evaluation of it. And, confronted by an unknown landscape, what happens to our sense of wealth. What does it mean to grow rich?" (p. 13).
Whether he is contemplating "the innocence" (p. 74) of muskoxen, the "intricate life of the polar bear" (p. 411), narwhals, migration, sea ice, or arctic light, Lopez has the ability to bring us to the edges of our senses. "This is an old business," he writes, "walking slowly over the land in anticipation of what lies hidden in it. The eye alights suddenly on something bright in the grass--the chitinous shell of an insect. The nose tugs at a minute blossom for some trace of arctic perfume. The hands turn over an odd bone, extrapolating, until the animal is discovered in the mind and seen to be moving in the land. One finds anomalous stones to puzzle over, and in footprints and broken spiderwebs the traces of irretrievable events" (p. 254). For Lopez, the Arctic region is "rich with metaphor, with adumbration. In a simple bow from the waist before the nest of the horned lark, you are able to stake your life, again, in what you dream" (p. xxix). He finds the "classic lines of a desert landscape" in the Arctic: "spare, balanced, extended, and quiet" (p. xxiii). This land is like poetry, Lopez observes: "it is inexplicably coherent, it is transcendent in its meaning, and it has the power to elevate a consideration of human life" (p. 274).
The Arctic region is a microcosm of the large-scale advance of Western culture, oil, gas and mineral industries upon the planet, "a disquieting reminder" that we are "on a course as disastrously short-lived as was that of the whaling industry" (p. 11). Lopez writes, "to contemplate what people are doing out here and ignore the universe of the seal, to consider human quest and plight and not know the land, to not listen to it, seemed fatal. Not perhaps for tomorrow, or next year, but fatal if you looked down the long road of our determined evolution" (p. 13). As this book proves, Barry Lopez is nature writng at its best.
5.0 out of 5 stars Arctic Dreams,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Arctic as Desert,
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez (Hardcover - Jan 1986)
Used & New from: CDN$ 3.03