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Arctic Circle: Birth and Rebirth in the Land of the Caribou Hardcover – March 22, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine; First Edition edition (March 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156792350X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567923506
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Mountaineer and writer Robert Leonard Reid had a dream, but for 25 years life kept getting in the way. He wanted to see the caribou on their 2,700 mile annual migration across the Arctic. Wrapped in mystery, it is the longest migration of any land animal on Earth. Reid finally made the trip on the eve of his 60th birthday. Arctic Circle: Birth and Rebirth in the Land of the Caribou is his melancholy, witty, scientific, and spiritual account of the trip. Though Reid was late in following his dream, the timing of his book celebrating the majestic beauty of a place oil companies are eyeing for drilling is impeccable. --The Boston Globe

Reid's yearning for the Arctic crystallized when he met Fred Meader in 1977. A homesteader living deep in the Alaskan wilderness, Meader was in California speaking about the environmental toll of oil drilling and advocating for protection of the magnificent Brooks Range. Because of heart-rending losses and tribulations, it took Reid many years to reach Alaska, and he now chronicles his bittersweet journeys in a meditative, affecting, and funny tale of adventure and revelation. Reid's big desire was to witness the great migration of the Porcupine caribou herd (named for the Porcupine River), which for thousands of years has made an unbelievably arduous annual trek to a coastal plain, where female caribous give birth and care for their young. As Reid recounts his Arctic sojourns with awe, lyricism, and bemusement, he subtly interlaces inner and outer worlds and traces the circles of struggle and understanding, life and death. Spectacular descriptions, charming wit, and forthright reflections on what makes a place sacred become striking testimony to the importance of the Arctic wild and the need to preserve it. --Booklist

What Reid finds in the Arctic is a world that transcends easy definition. He guides us through his experiences in a book which is part memoir, part spiritual quest, and part adventure story, with a healthy dose of natural history. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys a good travelogue or memoir, and the engaging blend of spiritual and scientific elements ensure a broad appeal. --ForeWord Reviews

About the Author

Author of Mountains of the Great Blue Dream and America, New Mexico, Robert Leonard Reid has received grants from the Sierra Arts Foundation and the Nevada Arts Council. He has worked as a
songwriter, a cabaret pianist, and a mathematics textbook writer. He lives in Carson City, Nevada, with his wife, Carol, and his son, Jake.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal." Reid does a good first approximation of that ideal, since he is a mathematician by training, and often a poet by inclination, so it is natural for him to include the subject quote by William James in his acknowledgements. Though the severely "compartmentalized" might object to his writing style, I found it a delight, as he bounces from that no-nonsense Jack Webb "just the facts, ma'am" to the lyrically poetic. In the introduction he acknowledges that he has entered his 7th decade, which he hopes is only the "end of the beginning," as opposed to the opposite, but realizes he must get serious about that "to do" list, and what will really be accomplished in the remaining time. Fortunately, honoring a promise made long ago, to visit a remote homestead, north of the Arctic Circle, was one he could now add the checkmark, "Done." This book describes how he fulfilled that promise.

Center stage in this story is the Porcupine Caribou herd (so named for the river north of the Arctic Circle which flows into the Yukon R.). This herd has been in the news lately due to the possibility of "Drill, Baby, Drill," yes, oil drilling in and near its migratory range. As Reid points out, these caribou have been undertaking this migration, from their winter range in the Ogilvie Mountains in the Yukon to Ivvavik, on the Beaufort Sea, since before the pyramids were a gleam in a pharaoh's eyes, or the first rye was cultivated by a hunter-gatherer. In their lifetimes that may easily walk 25,000 miles, the circumference of the earth at the equator. He manages two trips, one to see them in early summer, near Ivvavik; the second in late winter, March, to see them in the Ogilvie, just prior to their departure north.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shepherd Darquea on June 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was an excellent book, to say the least. It shares with the reader a vivid exploration of not just the arctic and it's mysteries, but also an exploration into the deep, long lost connection between humans and the earth and how we need to honor our roots, which is really nature. Every time I sat down to read this book I felt as if I was right along side Bob Reid ready to step outside into the frigid danger with him into a "barren wasteland," which would actually turn out to be somewhat of a heaven on earth. It makes me want to drop everything and go see the world for myself! Anyway, I would recommend this book to anybody. It's a thrilling adventure both physically and spiritually that everybody can relate with.
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Format: Hardcover
Journalist and mountain-climber, Robert Leonard Reid had always revered Arctic explorers, and in the 7th decade of his life, he finally decided to emulate them.

His was a `quest' rather than a `vacation,' since it involved not only a goal, but also a great deal of hardship, poetry, and philosophy. The people of the North that we meet in "Arctic Circle" are larger than life, some of them profoundly so. One of them, whom the author interviewed for a bittersweet hour in San Francisco, triggered his desire to discover the True North for himself,first in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska, and later in the Yukon.

Would the North be the frozen killing grounds of his Arctic heroes, or a wilderness that is "essential to human survival"--a place where humans can enter "into the cycle of the seasons, the caribou, the willow, and the alder." Or was the North Slope of Alaska, "in the words of Gale Norton, secretary of the interior under President George W. Bush, the geographical equivalent of 'Seinfeld'--a 'flat white nothingness.' Developing such an imponderable, one might conclude, would be like developing, say, Neptune. What harm could there be in that?"

In common with this author, I also dreamed of entering into the True North, and finally reached as far as I dared on a canoe trip just south of the Arctic Circle. We were there for three weeks in August, during the caribou migration. It was an intense, life-altering experience--not only because of the absence of civilization (we were 200 miles from the nearest town), or because of the wolves, the eagles, the black bear (we never saw a grizzly), and the hundreds of caribou, but also because of the weather that varied from moment to moment from snow to hail to mist to sun. We saw hundreds of rainbows.
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Format: Hardcover
Arctic Circle: Birth and Rebirth in the Land of the Caribou tells of a sixty-year-old's dream to trek north, and a long-ago promise made to an Alaskan homesteader that one day he'd journey to the Arctic and write about it. This chronicles his experiences in the Arctic, from his personal odyssey to his encounters with wildlife and people unique to the Arctic Circle. It's an outstanding survey for any general library strong in true life adventure and nature.
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