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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land Hardcover – April 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"... this book is an eye-opening treasure." -- NEWSDAY book review, May 18, 2003

"A 192-page celebration in words and pictures of the bird life of America's greatest wilderness refuge..." -- Leopard Report

"Arctic Wings is a celebration of bird life in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,.." -- Field Notes from North Cascades Institute

"Banerjee's photographs provided irrefutable evidence of the refuge's rich ecological diversity as well as its fragile and unmatched beauty." -- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Brown's book is a visually and verbally compelling look at the Arctic." -- San Antonio Express-News

"Stunning photographs....The beautiful photographs and interesting text will appeal to many." -- Wild Bird

"These images are sharply at odds with the notion...that the refuge is a frozen, lifeless place." -- San Francisco Chronicle, February 22, 2004

"This is a tour de force of the Arctic landscape.." -- The Oregonian

Banerjee['s]...exquisite photos allow the voices of plants, animals, and indigenous people to be heard. -- E Magazine

This book should be required reading of every senator, congressman, and president. -- The Explorers Journal

From the Inside Flap

It is a land of pristine wilderness, pulsing with life even in the depths of white subzero winter. Entirely unscarred by roads or signs, it is the place in all Alaska where the polar bear most often prefers to den. It is host to more than 180 resident and migratory bird species that journey from six continents and all fifty states to nest and rear their young. Because of the massive herds of Porcupine caribou who converge upon the coastal plain to calve each spring, it is known as "the American Serengeti." To the Gwich’in people, who call the refuge their home, it is "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins."

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a touchstone for all people, one of the few remaining ecosystems on our planet unaltered by human impact, where true wilderness can still be experienced. But now the refuge is showing signs of global warming: immense McCall Glacier, measured to have lost more than thirty feet in depth in the last forty years; the northward march of the dwarf willow, moving at a pace not seen in 8,000 years; the alarming decline of the muskox, forced to forage where their calves are vulnerable to predators. And the refuge is further threatened by oil development, which would forever unravel the delicate pattern of nature found here.

Award-winning photographer SUBHANKAR BANERJEE devoted two years of his life to documenting the land, its wild species, and its Native peoples. With Inupiat guide Robert Thompson, Banerjee traveled 4,000 miles through the refuge on foot and by raft, kayak, and snowmobile during all four seasons. With more than 200 breathtaking color images, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land makes this case: Leaving the refuge intact in all its mysterious beauty is vital to the survival of this unique ecosystem.

Banerjee’s photos are paired with six essays and a foreword by former president JIMMY CARTER.

In his essay, PETER MATTHIESSEN paints in living color the glorious profundity of life encountered on an expedition at the refuge. FRAN MAUER examines the full range of Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems found here. WILLIAM MEADOWS recounts the Wilderness Society’s role in creating the refuge and helping to protect it for over forty years. DEBBIE MILLER profiles native Gwich’in and Inupiat families, by choice tied to the land for survival despite the pressures they face. GEORGE SCHALLER recounts the first expedition that led to the creation of the refuge. DAVID ALLEN SIBLEY experiences the wonder of the Arctic coastal plain aflutter with nesting birds from all six continents. Each comes to the same conclusion: The refuge is an abundant and critical habitat that would be irreversibly destroyed if exploited for oil.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898869099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898869095
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 0.8 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,427,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
With the stunning pictures and essays, it's like you are there. It shows the beauty of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in winter and summer. The wildlife and native people are seen as they live their lives. The essays provide guided tours into the Arctic by six conservationists.
One thinks of the Arctic as all white. It is not, even in winter. The snow covered ground makes moose, grizzly, musk oxen, porcupine, willows, and many birds stand out. The ptarmigan changes plumage twice a year to blend into the two Arctic seasons. The sky can be brilliantly blue during the day, and green or red with the Aurora Borealis at night.
The summer brings a greater variety of color to the land and draws the migrating birds through our parts of the country to their nesting area in the Refuge. The Porcupine caribou herd is drawn to the Coastal Plain to give birth and to fatten up for the coming long winter. The pictures and essays tell the story of the people, polar and grizzly bears, the caribou, the musk oxen, a variety of smaller animals, and the large number of bird species that live all, or part of, their lives there.
The book has excellent maps. Some illustrate the migration paths of birds from North and South America, Asia, even Africa. Others show: caribou and bowhead whale migration routes; where the people live; and the major geological features.
Banerjee's pictures range from the broad expanse of mountains and rivers to the color and detail of the lichen on the rocks. I've learned much. One would have to spend many months in the Refuge to see what is in this book.
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By A Customer on May 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Take a four season journey through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and discover the great diversity of life that hallmarks this spectacular refuge. Subhanker Banerjee's photographs capture the wildlife, the people, and the landscape in a way that has not been done before. Essays by Peter Mathiessen, David Sibley, Fran Mauer are heartfelt and beautiful.
I went to the exhibit at the Smithsonian last week. Despite the political pressure to keep the pictures and the captions hidden from the public, the exhibit is inspirational and uplifting. Too bad the Smithsonian doesn't even have a sign to the exhibit, you have to search for it down in the basement. Get even with those who would keep you from seeing this book--buy it and decide for yourself if this place is worth protecting.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because there was no other way to understand the photos that were on display at the Museum of Natural History. I was not alone; several people walked around Banerjee's exhibition with their books in hand. The curator had removed all descriptive labels, and the introductory plaque emphasized how small the Arctic refuge is compared to other such reserves throughout the country. The photos were mounted in a corridor leading to an elevator. It was poorly lit, and crowded with people passing through. It was in the back of the building, and hard to find. It was a startling contrast to the Eliot Porter exhibition in one of the main exhibition halls above the ground floor. That exhibition was well designed, well described, and included copies of books like "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson, hardly a neutral text. The only message I could take away was that environmentalism is "safe" to the Smithsonian curators only when it's at least 30 or 40 years old.
The treatment of Banerjee's photos was so troublesome that Congress held hearings on the matter. But no news report could compare to the feeling of being there, near the elevator.
I took the book home with me, trying to understand whether or not the poor installation was due to poor material or to poor museum administration. Banerjee's photos, and the stories and writings around the photos, are greatly compelling. The story of how hard he worked to get those photos, and of how in the process, he became a better photographer, stood out to me. I highly recommend the book, but I hope I have helped some enthusiasts know just how controversial the notion of natural beauty can be, and how the Smithsonian does play politics. Apparently, reading Banerjee's book can be considered an act of protest.
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Format: Hardcover
The is not a true review: indeed, I have not yet recived the book for Amazon.
I just came home from a dinner with Peter Mattiessen at the University of Tulsa, at which he spoke passionately of the phyiscal and finacinal effort Mr. Banerjee undertook to create this work, the reaction in Congress to the book, the pressure upon the Smithsonian and the American Muesum of American History to quash display of Mr. Banerjee's photographs, and his personal fears of deportation or worse by the Justice Department under the Patriot Act. A most frightening portral of the reach real or reasonably feared of this Adminstration when an individual, spcially an alien, dares question its motive. As Senator Stevens(R)Alaska, chair of the Senate Appropriate committee was reported to say to his colleages after Banerjee's testimony, and the Senate voted 52-48 against drilling in ANWR, "I know who you are and you will pay".
To cause such a reaction--it must be worth having.
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