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A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife Hardcover – Jul 19 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books (July 19 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155407178X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554071784
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 3 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #375,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

This field guide to Arctic wildlife is a thorough examination of the territory, with emphasis on habitat. In the introductory pages, the author defines the region and then discusses its geology, climate (including such unique phenomena as aurora borealis, parhelia, mirages, ice blink, water sky, and whiteout), exploration, and habitats and what it takes for organisms to survive the harsh conditions. The introduction concludes with a look at threats, including global warming.

Following all the background information is expansive coverage of the wildlife, divided into separate sections for birds and mammals. Arrangement is by major taxonomic groupings, and for each grouping, there is an overview followed by species accounts. For example, the section on loons includes the common loon, the yellow-billed loon, the Arctic loon, the Pacific loon, and the red-throated loon. Each account provides identifying characteristics, confusion species (other species for which the one in question can be mistaken), size, voice (an interesting detail), distribution, diet, breeding, and variations. Range maps denoting location are provided, as are full-color photographs showing birds in their habitats. In addition, color plates illustrate the species in each taxonomic group. "A Visitor's Guide to the Arctic" and an index listing the common, alternative common, and scientific names of wildlife complete the volume.

It is obvious that this book was carefully researched and that the author has strong sentiment for the animals of this environmentally fragile area. Large public and academic libraries considering this purchase should find readership among those researching the Arctic or simply wanting to browse a lovingly presented guide. cheryl ward
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife is a lavishly illustrated, highly informative and comprehensive volume that will be an important addition to the library of anyone with a deep and abiding interest in Arctic natural history... The introductory material is an enormous asset to the volume.... Together, these first three richly detailed introductory chapters--"Defining the Arctic", "Arctic geology" and "The Arctic climate," provide the best general scientific introduction to the Arctic that I have encountered... Students and visitors to the Arctic will find these introductory chapters an unsurpassed resource, and even seasoned Arctic scientists and permanent residents of the Far North will find a great deal of interest here. The wealth of information that Sale has brought together is enlivened by his clear writing style, in which the "dry" facts are animated with engagingly human touches... Each species is illustrated with at least one, often superb, colour photograph...and a clear
distribution map, also in colour, all attractively laid out.... "This book is a celebration of the Arctic" promises the author in his preface. He delivers. (Helle V. Goldman, Norwegian Polar Institute, Polar Journal of Polar Research, Norwegian Polar Institu)

A thorough examination ... expansive coverage.... It is obvious that this book was carefully researched and that the author has strong sentiment for the animals of this environmentally fragile area... A lovingly presented guide. (Cheryl Ward Booklist 2007-05-01)

This is a beautifully done field guide on the Arctic... A great reference book! (Wildlife Activist)

Blend[s] a field guide to Arctic birds and mammals with a mini travel guide to the Arctic.... This [is] the perfect specific reference for any library strong on Arctic wildlife identification and natural history. (Diane C. Donovan The Midwest Book Review)

Defines terms and retraces history with such lucid style one cannot put the book down. (Diane M. Calabrese American Reference Books Annual)

[A] richly illustrated, fact-packed celebration of the Arctic. (Wildlife Conservation)

A book of this size and complexity that did not have a few omissions, typographical errors, and mistakes would be surprising.... Notwithstanding .... the overall quality of this book is excellent; it has very sharp, well-reproduced color photographs, excellent illustrations, and concise, well-written text.... I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Arctic. (Stephen R. Johnson Arctic)

[Globe and Mail Christmas 2006 Gift Book selection] A richly illustrated and fact-packed celebration of the Arctic's mammals and birds, with each species annotated in meticulous details. ... More than 450 stunning and original colour plates. (Globe and Mail 2006-12-09)

A comprehensive guide ... replete with vivid full-color photographs. (Science News 2006-11-25)

The species descriptions are detailed and clear and are some of the best I have read.... While this is not meant as a coffee-table book the photographs are really eye-catching.... I will take this book with me on my upcoming trip to the Pribiloffs. (Roy John The Canadian Field-Naturalist, Vol. 120)

If you are planning a photography trip to the Far North, you might want to weigh the advantages of packing this nearly three-pound comprehensive guide in your luggage. This is every bit a reference book, illustrated by over 450 high quality colour photographs plus art renderings of the various species. (Joy McDonell Canadian Camera)

The first comprehensive guide to Arctic wildlife.... This beautiful, useful book is a must for any library covering animal life, geography, or the Arctic. Summing Up: Essential. All levels. (B. Galbraith, Washington State University Choice)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars 15 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Author comment Feb. 26 2013
By Richie - Published on
Format: Paperback
As author of this book I should not, of course, be reviewing it, but this is to correct a publisher mistake rather than to review, so I have pitched it at three stars.

I work in the UK and so use metres, kilograms and temperatures in C, which were in the UK edition of the book. Firefly, the North American publisher, changed all my units to miles/feet, pounds and temperatures in F. Sadly the person that did the conversion did not understand (or care about) the difference between Centigrade degrees and degrees Centigrade, and so when I said the temperature of the Arctic had risen by 2C, this was converted to 36F rather than 4F as it should have been. I was showered by letters from North American buyers telling me what an idiot I was and that if I was correct we would all be sunbathing on Greenland's beaches. I wrote to Firefly asking them to get this right in any subsequent edition. They ignored my letters and emails, and have transferred the same errors into the new paperback edition. I have contacted them again - they have ignored me again. Given the book has so many 5 star reviews and has had excellent reviews from the scientific community it seems a shame that Firefly have no interest (a lack of interest amounting to complete comtempt for both their author and readers) in getting THEIR error sorted out. So please, don't write me any more letters - IT'S NOT MY ERROR AND NOT MY FAULT.

Dr Richard Sale
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only birds and mammals, but all of them Oct. 23 2009
By Marissink Marcus - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book, but some of the reviews are exaggerating a bit. First of all, there are no "thousands" of species in this book (nor in the Arctic), but "only" 213 birds and 77 mammals. Second, there are no fishes (whales and dolphins are mammals), nor plants.

The reasons why I do not give this book five stars:
- The plates that help to identify the animals are spread throughout the book, not in direct connection to the description, nor together in the middle or at the back. That makes it a bit hard to find them.
- Some of the photos are not perfect (and this is even more striking given the overall quality of the other photos).
- The descriptions of the distributions are sometimes incomplete, at least outside the Arctic region.
- It would have been nice if Northern Scandinavia had been included - to me, it's Arctic enough!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely complete Dec 31 2007
By R. Stam - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of the best wildlife guides I have ever seen and by far the best wildlife guide of the arctic regions. I can recommand this book to anyone going (or living) there. The book starts with about 50 pages of introduction. In this part of the book different aspects of the region are described, such as geology, climate and a history of humans in the arctic. After that it really starts: some 300 pages filled with information of all kind of birds followed by another 100 pages about arctic mammals. Altogether this is a very complete, well illustrated guidebook. A "must have" for everyone interested in arctic wildlife!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Tour-de-Force Sept. 10 2014
By M. Paul Holsinger - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a wonderful volume this "complete guide" is! Though its author, Richard Sale, has pointed out in a separate review that there are some glaring statistical errors in the U.S. version of the book, I suppose one ought to suggest viewing it skeptically but I certainly am not one of those naysayers. From the first long section on the Arctic in general to the detailed accounts of the many birds and/or mammals that make the Arctic their home, permanently or just part-time, I found page after page of utterly detailed but always fascinating accounts. Perhaps one should never consider this a volume with which you might want curl up before a fire on a winter night, but even that is not out of the question. As I read article after article, I only wanted more and I suspect anyone with even a budding interest in the Arctic will too. One could wish a few more pictures of some of the wildlife featured in the book but in nearly every case, the excellent line drawings which accompany the major divisions, more than make up for this lack.

If there is anything "wrong" with this fine piece of scholarship, it is the book's unbelievable weight. Even in a paperback edition, I found my hands actually aching after a few minutes just trying to hold it open to read. As another reviewer on this site has suggested, one surely would never want to carry this tome into the field but as a reference to all the birds and mammals of the Arctic, it is unparalleled and that should surely be "the bottom line" when considering the merits of any book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide Oct. 13 2013
By N. Levi - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This guide helps you identify and understand the habits of arctic wildlife. As a wildlife photographer, I know that the more you know about the subject you're photographing, the better your photographs will be.