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Last Places: A Journey in the North Paperback – November 20, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who are captivated either by offbeat adventure or by the Far North need look no further. Novelist and poet Millman followed the Vikings' route from Norway to Newfoundland and Labrador, journeying by ferry, mail boat and cargo vessel to the Shetlands, Faeroes and Iceland, with side trips to isolated islands (Foua, Grimsey). From Iceland, he flew to a former air base in Greenland, where he explored Viking sites in the south on both coasts. Flying to Newfoundland, he traveled by ferry to Goose Bay, Labrador; in this lonely place, peace was shattered by NATO planes running test flights into the interior. Returning to Newfoundland by ferry, Millman completed his journey at the Vikings' last-known settlement, L'Anse aux Meadows. The volume paints a bleak portrait of such dwellings, especially in Greeland, of a primitive people no longer self-sufficient, herded into ghettos. The author tells also of the region's natural wildness, embattled at times by humans: he witnessed whale-bashing in the Faeroes and endured attacks by nesting skuas in the Shetlands. Millman's descriptive writing borders on the florid, but he captures the beauty and fragility of an austere landscape. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Known for his travel writing, Millman chronicles his journey across the breadth of the North Atlantic, following the route of the Vikings. The armchair traveler accompanies Millman on board various ships from Bergen, Norway, via the Shetland Islands, the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, to Labrador and Newfoundland. The author not only describes the beauty of these remote places but relates the history of their land and people, tells tales of the local mythology, and has heartwarming encounters with the native residents. He never fails to point out how environmental and social changes are endangering these far away and forgotten lands. Millman's acerbic wit makes the book extremely entertaining. He imparts his love and respect for the primitive radiance of the landscape and the hardy character of the region's often eccentric residents.
- Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svces., Wondervu, Col.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (November 20, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618082484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618082483
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is appropriate that Paul Theroux, that globetrotting curmudgeon who gave us THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS and so many other great travel books, should write the introduction for this edition of Millman's LAST PLACES. Millman takes Theroux's world-weariness to higher latitudes -- from Norway across to the Shetlands and Faroes, from there to Iceland and Greenland, and ending up in Labrador.
But like Theroux, Millman is wonderfully entertaining. See him witness a Faroese "grindadráp," or mass slaughter of a whole pod of whales, by throngs of gleeful Faroese bearing hooks and knives. See him wake up naked and hung over in a drainage ditch after a night of carousing in Reykjavik. And, most funny of all, see him fend off love-starved Inuit maidens in Nuuk who crave his bod and are not too dainty about their seduction technique.
Millman is a bit of a loner, and yet his book sparkles most when he is interacting with the locals. Because this happens hardly at all in the Shetlands, this is the weakest part of his book. LAST PLACES picks up steam as he visits an isolated lighthouse keeper in the West Fjords of Iceland whose library extends to 16,000 volumes. His encounters with Inuits in Greenland are priceless. And the episodes in Labrador show us a land of isolated cranks and eccentrics attempting to protect their way of life from do-gooder government relocation projects.
When the thermometer rises, pick up this book to cool you off. It makes for great summer reading. And it is excellent preparation for my upcoming trip to Iceland. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Millman displays a rare ability to capture the shadows seen from the corner of his eye, our walking guide to Iceland's "back roads". He carefully meters the methodical pace of icebound survival with a traveler's fascination for all living things, without need to hold back any random or contrary observations. Many "naturalist travels" books describe places, people, and ancedotal passages, but "Last Places" really does draw the reader to this unlikely destination with its insight and humor.
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Format: Paperback
A truly wonderful book about traveling in the North from Norway to Newfoundland. Millmand sets out to trace the Viking Route across the North Atlantic and along the way comes up with tales magical and gritty at the same time. My favorite is his meeting with the lighthouse keeper who lives with his library of 16,000 books. Millman has the ability to be open to every experience, take it all in, meet all kinds of human beings and make it come alive in words. This one goes on my short shelf to be read over again. A great book for travelers dreaming of a northern journey and for armchair travelers alike.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tiny little islands and bigger ones, these are the travels in the far, far north. The author takes you along as he visits those who live in these far-flong places and discovers what everyday life is like. A very interesting book, especially if you are interested in travels to unusual cold places!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best travel writing reveals new layers of a place, and inspires us to pick up an atlas — not just to find out where these strange settings are, but to start planning a trip of one's own.

Millman's travels take him through some fascinating bits of both physical and human geography: from the Shetland islands to the Faroes, through the Iceland's uninhabited centre, deep into Greenland, and finally to Labrador and Newfoundland, as he loosely follows the route of the Vikings and immerses himself in myth, landscape, solitude and questionable meals.

I first encountered Millman's work many years ago in Best American Travel Writing 2001, the one edited by Paul Theroux, and his story of Pantelleria stuck in my head ever since, hovering at the back of my mind long after I'd transposed the location to Lampedusa.

I found a copy of An Evening Among Headhunters some years after that, and several of those stories left a similar mark. I grew up in a small St Lawrence River town in Ontario, and became temporarily obsessed with Anticosti Island after reading his book — an island I'd never heard of and still have yet to visit.

And I found Last Places while researching an upcoming journey to Iceland. Halfway through the book, I found myself ordering copies for friends, and sending away for Millman's other northern books.

This is an inspiring journey, wonderfully written, funny, honest, and true. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this vicarious trip to lands I have always been interested in, but will never be able to travel to. Mr. Millman has taken this journey for me. He writes of his love for cold rocky lands, for tiny, sparsely populated islands out in the middle of the Atlantic and in out of the way places. He writes about what he has seen and experienced in these cold exotic places and wamts his readers to experience them also.

Lawrence Millman is very knowledgeable about the different floras and faunas in these islands and coutries and also knows much about geology. He felt he needed to take the journey because of his love of these places; plus he wanted to experience what the Vikings saw and experienced on their journies to what was in their time unknown places. Then he wrote this great book so others can also take this trip without ever leaving their comfortable homes and lives.

Mr. Millman is at ease with the animals and the natives and interacts with both groups.. At times he goes to their homes, eats their food which most of us would fear to do with people of unknown customs and ways of eating plus the type of foods these natives eat. He walks all over these rocky, barren lands eschewing renting a car for he wants to experience all types of weather, all hard climbs. Looking from the window of a bus is not for him.

However, toward the end of his journey though he really doesn't want to, as he prefers to travel as the Vikings did ,he takes planes and a bus to get to Labrador.

This is one great trip. I enjoyed the book and will read and reread it. Mr Millman is a man of courage, adventure and love of life. He writes about these lands just as he sees them and not through rose colored glasses.
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