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Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica. Hardcover – November 9, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: John MacRae Books
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805079424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805079425
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #859,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Montaigne (Reeling in Russia), a journalist and travel writer, spent five months tracking penguins through the breeding season on the northwestern Antarctica peninsula with the scientist Bill Fraser, and his book is a bittersweet account of the stark beauty of the continent and the climate change that threatens its delicate ecosystem. Fraser first came to Antarctica in 1974, and his research on the peninsula, one of the fastest-warming places on the planet, with an 11°F winter heat rise in the past 60 years, has made him a pivotal figure in the study of how global warming disrupts not just individual species but creates an ecological cascade. As diminishing sea ice reduces the krill and silver fish that feed the Adélie penguins, who have thrived in this region for thousands of years, they are now dwindling alarmingly; consequently, brown skua birds, predators of the Adélies, are also having trouble breeding, and gentoo penguins, who thrive in warmer conditions, are becoming the dominant species. Montaigne poetically portrays the daunting Antarctic landscape and gives readers an intimate perspective on its rugged, audacious, and charming penguin and human inhabitants.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Global warming has already come to the Adélie penguins at Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Journalist Montaigne spent five months there working with biologist Bill Fraser and his devoted team of wildlife researchers. Fraser attests that much has changed since he first arrived in the polar region in 1975. Temperatures are up, the area’s glaciers have receded, and the ice shelf covering the nearby Wendell Sea has shrunk considerably. Krill that used to thrive under the blue ice are now harder for Adélie penguins to find. Receding ice has also allowed more predatory seals into the area. Sadly, Fraser has watched numerous penguin colonies established over 500 years ago disappear. In this sympathetic firsthand report, Montaigne describes the lives of both the researchers who brave the harsh weather and the penguins whose habitat is quickly becoming inhospitable to their reproduction. Montaigne’s compelling account is a clear and impassioned call for environmental action before the consequences of global warming turn catastrophic worldwide. --Rick Roche

Customer Reviews

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The book has all the elements of a classic.
Christopher Baker
There is also a lot of work, fieldwork done in the most dire of environments, involving "the patient execution of repetitious tasks."
Rob Hardy
Montaigne's book tells Fraser's story--he's a tough bird himself--and chronicles the work of his Antarctic team.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A cartoon in our paper yesterday showed an addled scientist in a wizard's hat proclaiming, in our spate of winter weather, that global warming was the new global cooling. People have had a good deal of misunderstanding about global warming, and mocking egghead scientists might be satisfactory to those who want to say that there is no climate problem. If you could ask the Adélie penguins of Antarctica about the issue, they'd know firsthand without any scientific reports that their world is heating up. They are losing sea ice, an essential for their environment, and so they are dwindling in numbers and affecting the creatures that depend on them, and so on it goes. The Adélies would find it stupid that some humans think global warming is controversial, and so do the scientists who have studied them over the past decades. One of the chief investigators is Bill Fraser, who has spent big chunks of his life in Antarctica during the past thirty years. Journalist Fen Montaigne traveled to work with Fraser for five months in the Antarctic summer of 2005 - 2006, and has now written _Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica_ (Henry Holt). Encompassing geology, biology, chunks of Antarctic history, descriptions of living and working in a bleak and beautiful environment, and personality profiles of those who like being there, Montaigne's book is a fine work of natural history to tell us of the penguins' plight, which is also our own.

Fraser is the scientist profiled in most detail here because of his lasting connection to Palmer Station, a US science base of about forty researchers just outside the Antarctic circle on a peninsula that sticks out toward Cape Horn of South America.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Baker on December 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fen Montaigne's account of the impact of climate change on adelie penguins in Antarctica is absorbing not only for its mastery of this troubling yet poignant subject but also its vivid writing and story telling drive. The redoubtable Adelie population is dwindling and the likely culprit is human reliance on fossil fuels. Montaigne spent five months with researchers in Antarctica monitoring the dwindling colony of adelies. He skillfully weaves the history of Antarctic exploration, the science of global warming and adelie population trends, and the quirky personalities of the scientists themselves into a vivid tale that resonates for its clarity and depth. What makes the book special is the author's own reactions to what he sees and feels, along with his writerly descriptions of the strange creatures that inhabit this ethereally beautiful world. Like all good adventure stories this is a tale of discovery where the reader becomes a fellow traveler of the author, seeing what he sees with the same sense of astonishment and awe. The book has all the elements of a classic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By sksouth on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I worked with the author at Palmer Station during the 2005-06 field season, so I am familiar with both the science and the locations he is writing about. I am also familiar with the wide variation in quality in the science writing field, as well as the "oooh I'm so tough" Antarctic writing genre. Fen has created an intelligent and accessible book that achieves the difficult task of explaining some abstruse and remote concepts in understandable language without being dumbed down. In addition, he comes as close as anybody has to conveying in words the incredible unbelievable landscape in the Antarctic Peninsula and its simultaneously ennobling and humbling effect on the human psyche (see, I'm not a professional writer so I can get goofy about it). Two thumbs up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Been There on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of sharing a cabin with Fen Montaigne on his first trip south to Palmer Station on the LM GOULD. Little did I know that introduction to Palmer Station and my good friend of many years, Bill Fraser, would result in this outstanding book. Fen does a wonderful job telling a complex science story in terms that all can understand and gives the reader a look into the world of some of the very dedicated researchers and support staff that work in the United States Antarctic Program.

Highly recommend this wonderful book that tells the tale of the Adelie penguin in the changing world of the Antarctic Peninsula, the individuals that have spent their careers researching Adelie's in the region and that very special place that allows the work to be accomplished, Palmer Station.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Business Week Magazine reports that 47 members of Congress - 11 U.S. Senators and 36 U.S. Representatives - share the blind ignorance of Republican Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who declared that man-made global warming was the "greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people."

Inhofe's willful ignorance may appeal to the good citizens of Oklahoma, but his grandchildren are going to curse his name. Global warming, and by that I mean anthropogenic global warming, is as real as taxes and far more deadly. Every week that goes by without our doing something about it increases the risk of catastrophe.

Everyone capable of rational thought knows that northern sea ice is melting; in fact, the eastern Arctic seems to be refusing to freeze this year. But the latest proof comes from the Antarctic Peninsula, and is documented in Fen Montaigne's excellent book, "Fraser's Penguins." Antarctic scientist Bill Fraser didn't set out to study global warming or climate change. He was researching Adélie Penguins. With the Emperor Penguin, their larger cousins, Adelies are true Antarctic species. Their lives, food and breeding cycles are intimately wrapped around sea ice. And as Bill Fraser has carefully, meticulously documented over the course of 35 years, the sea ice is melting earlier, with devastating consequences for the Adélie Penguins that depend upon it. Colonies of Adélies on and around the Antarctic Peninsula that have existed for tens of thousands of years are gone. The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed eleven degrees Farenheit in 35 years. The cascade of consequences is frightening to anyone whose soul hasn't been purchased by the fossil fuel industry. The coldest place the planet is thawing. The ice is going to melt. The oceans are going to rise.
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