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Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places Paperback – July 19, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (July 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316042927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316042925
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cold weather systems the earth needs to thrive is the subject of Streever's well-documented book, using all of the author's expertise from his field trips to the world's most frigid environments. Streever, who chairs the North Slope Science Initiative's Science Technical Advisory Panel, writes of the frostiest experience: We fail to see cold for what it is: the absence of heat, the slowing of molecular motion, a sensation, a perception, a driving force. Rather than giving the reader a dry, academic lecture on snow, glaciers, wind-chill factors and icebergs, he delivers a poetic, anecdotal narrative complete with polar expeditions, Ice Age mysteries, igloos, permafrost and hailstorms. Two of the most fascinating segments are the arduous task of scientific reconstruction of past climates and the magical navigation of migratory birds to warmer lands. This is a wonderful collection of one man's first-rate observations and commentary about the history and importance of cold to the earth and its occupants. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Cold, filled with obscure facts and fascinating anecdotes, is both entertaining and enlightening, and Streever's crisp, articulate writing style and easy-to-understand scientific explanations yield a compulsively readable book. However, Streever's loosely organized chapters and stream-of-consciousness, bloglike narrative keep him from dwelling for long on any single topic, and the Dallas Morning News took issue with his single-minded focus on the northern hemisphere. Some critics also objected to his views on climate change, but these complaints stemmed from differences of opinion. Streever's breezy, captivating romp through the frozen North reminds readers "that cold shapes continents, wins and loses wars, fuels madmen, inspires Nobel Prize–winning work, challenges us, curses us and blesses us" (Cleveland Plain Dealer). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

You can bet that Bill Streever likes cold better than you do.
R. Hardy
This study of how cold did, does, and will affect each of us is not a rant about either global warming or denial of it.
Linda Mohr
He's got a great writing style which made for a very pleasurable read.
Pamelamo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jan Fechhelm on August 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having spent a few short weeks (way, way too short an amount of time!) in the Arctic, reading this book makes me ache to return. I missed so much - I was so clueless! Reading "Cold - Adventures in the World's Frozen Places" was a very unexpected delight! I am not usually a reader of non-fiction, but this book was so interesting and well writen. The language is rich and well developed, the stories are great, the science is fascinating and most importantly, you can easily tell how much the author loves everything cold, but especially Alaska and the far north.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Seth Lerer on August 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful, evocative book about not just the science or experience of cold but the poetics of the chill. Mr. Streever is an accomplished scientist and nature writer, and this book goes beyond his previous publications to embrace the science and the spirit of the outdoors. Throughout the book, he blends technical observation with historical reference, literary allusion, and personal memoir. Writing of this kind moves beyond the generation of John McPhee -- with its precise detachment and patrician elegance -- and it moves beyond, too, the exhortations of Bill McKibben. IF there is a future for eco-criticism, it may lie precisely in the fractured narrative of Streever's Alaska. In many ways, the arc of the book captures what must be the Alaskan experience: a collection of memories and materials, brought in from "outside," and reassembled into public spaces and private imaginations. It may well be that the the book's controlling structure, then, mirrors the midnight-sun pastiche that is this state, and it's good to know that, whatever the politics may be on that peninsula, there is a profound sensitivity to life and writing among people such as Mr. Streever.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Haarsager on August 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With so much heat in our future -- global warming, Dante's Inferno, the aging Sun enlarging to swallow the Earth -- why should cold be such a fascinating topic? In long, long time, a leading theory of the end of the universe called "heat death" says that absolute cold is the fate of us all -- or at least of our atomic remains. Cold, in other words, is the natural order of things.

Streever does a great job of describing the effects of this inevitability in this intellectually compelling yet entertaining book. We read that the Earth was itself once a frozen planet "only" 700m years back (the Earth is 4.5b years old). We see how life is impacted by and adjusts itself to the effects of cold. We see how cold ends life when these adjustments fail. And sometimes, as is the case with mammoths, cold preserves specimens for millennia to teach us about life in the distant past.

The scientist/author is an Alaskan and the book is accordingly heavy with Alaska references, but there is about an equal portion of references from the rest of the planet. He writes stylishly in something of a journal format.

It's a great read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Goodell on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Bill Streever's "Cold: Adventures in the World's Coldest Places," is at once a splendid travel narrative and a sort of "Cryogenics For Dummies." Streever has that unique ability to convey complex scientific principles and theories in an accessible and readable manner. More than this, though, he delievers highly evocative descriptions of landscapes and nature, or cities and citizens, and he includes plenty of subtle wit and dry humor.

Sentences such as "The red fox, the tiger, the wolf, the wolverine, and the raven all cross biome boundaries as if they did not exist, as if they have never read an ecology textbook or studied a biome map," can be, for the right kind of reader, laugh-out-loud funny.

Or try this for understated whimsy: "On the mountainsides above Anchorage, chinook winds can reach hurricane strength. The loss of roofs from hillside houses is not unknown, giving wealthy homeowners exceptional but unexpected views of crisp winter skies."

Much of the last quarter of the book is devoted to global warming. Though he makes his position clear, Streever is not an ideologue, content to discuss the facts, contemplate the consequences, and ultimately, to acknowledge that even in the worst case scenario, we occupy a minuscule slice in the grand sweep of time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Dicanio on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a refreshing blast of cold air.For someone who is familiar with much of both Arctic and Antarctic issues, I was impressed with obtaining more information on both supra and subnivean topics. Weather,climate,animal migration and winter habits,permafrost and various other sundry topics polar and non- polar are touched upon.Global warming was also addressed in a non threatening circuitous way as well as exploration past and present with some references to the giants of polar history and their work within the deep, cold, interiors.Particularly interesting was the discussion of the conquest of cold which is the title of another wonderful book by the same name written by Tom Shachtman back in 1999 which I read and is referred to by Mr.Streever several times and should be read after this one if your interest grows deeper.Cold is well written by a scientist over the course of a years time with globe trotting observations but always returning to his home state of Alaska in what appears to be a sort of grounding for him.The book itself imparts lots of facts and factoids that can only help not hinder one who studies the frigidly wonderful topic of cold.For those in the know this ground may have already been covered by you and some may find it lacking or just National Geographicalish in its approach. But sometimes old dogs can learn new tricks and books like this can generate new areas of inquiry and reference as it did for me. It helps keep it fresh to read new things even at the risk of going over old material.Read more ›
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