Listening time: 15 minutes. It’s about a quarter of a century since I first read this moving and enlightening book. Having recently re-read it, I was struck by how acutely relevant it remains to some of the central dilemmas we face.
At one level, it is a beautifully written natural and human history of the Arctic, including its exploration and exploitation. This in itself makes the book a gem, opening up a landscape that most of us will never visit, giving a glimpse into the capabilities that have allowed people and other species to make it their home.
It highlights different forms of resilience and ingenuity in finding ways to survive the extremes of a spare, harsh ecosystem.
Beyond that, it raises questions about our connection to landscapes in general; how we engage with them, how we shape them and, more to the point, how they shape us and our assumptions.
The full written text can be seen here, together with additional illustrated quotations, a treat of triologisms and a wealth of words discovered within its pages.