In this gripping circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle, Gretel Ehrlich paints a vivid portrait of the indigenous cultures that inhabit the starkly beautiful boreal landscape surrounding the Arctic Ocean, an ice-bound wilderness that includes northern Siberia, northwestern Greenland, Canada’s vast Nunavut, and northern Alaska. Ehrlich’s expedition, supported by the National Geographic Society, documents what remains of these cultures, specifically the similarities and differences among them, including hunting traditions, shamanic and ceremonial practices, languages and legendsthe ways in which they have survived, or have been assimilated, and how they are adapting to the impact of climate change on their ice-age cultures.
Ehrlich is fascinated by what she calls the ecology of culturethe ways in which the human presence of indigenous Arctic people is intricately interwoven with land, rock, river, sea, and ice. Depicting human-caused climate change as only the latest and most destructive of the ills and abuses first peoples have been suffering for 250 years, Ehrlich’s haunting and lovely prose portrays ancient tribes and traditions on the edge of extinction and captures the austere beauty of their various lifeways in the frozen dreamscape of the world they have always known.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I always look forward to reading Gretel Ehrlich. She is a very thoughtful, beautiful writer. A great book to read, but National Geographic should have used higher quality paper. The paper is barely above newspaper quality. Why?
Gretel Ehrlich pushes all the right buttons of those of us who yearn for a more authentic relationship to nature which we believe our hunter-gatherer ancestors had. Her exquisite book, "This Cold Heaven," captured elements of the life of the Inuit of northwest Greenland who hunt using dogsleds. They outlawed snowmobiles. In this book she makes a plea for the peoples of the north for whom global warming seems to be destroying the remnants of their traditional ways of subsistence. She illustrates this in the cases of four different peoples: those of the Bering straight, some reindeer herders above the arctic circle east of Archangel, Russia, the Eskimos of Melville Inlet, Canada and her familiar Greenlanders. Except for ice covered Melville Inlet global warming is changing their lives.
Although global warming is undoubtedly transforming the north (where I hang out each summer at 58 degrees north in British Columbia the growing season has increased by almost 50 days and...
Gretel Erlich with poetry and love writes of the imperiled cultures living on the ice, doomed now by our carelessness. Her book is important, urgent and beautiful.
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