- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc (May 9, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393052192
- ISBN-13: 978-0393052190
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,128,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Where Mountains Are Nameless: Passion and Politics in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Hardcover – May 9, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
There's little new in this overview of the current state of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) by Alaska adventurer Waterman (Arctic Crossing), who considers what remains of Alaska's pristine northern wilderness: fragile land is threatened, caribou herds are dwindling and oil companies are despoiling whatever they touch. Others have imparted impassioned observations of this kind, most recently Rick Bass in Caribou Crossing. Still, two qualities recommend this memorable depiction of a barren land's stark and precarious beauty. The first is the author's easy familiarity with the region, which he has trekked and paddled through for 20 years, bearing explicit witness to the destructive effects of oil exploration outside the ANWR. The second is Waterman's sense of history: laced through the reflective account of his travels is an engaging minibiography of the pioneering conservationist couple Olaus and Mardy Murie, legendary figures in the fight for the preservation of Alaskan wilderness. Olaus Murie first explored Alaska in 1914; he and Mardy first championed a wildlife refuge in the Eisenhower era; Mardy died in 2003, at age 101, knowing that legislation to open ANWR to petroleum had—one more time—been defeated. Maps and illus. not seen by PW. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mardy and Olaus Murie first traveled to the Arctic wilderness in 1914; three decades later they helped create the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Waterman, whose earlier works include Arctic Crossing (2001), chronicles the Muries' story and his own 18 trips to the Far North in a series of inclusive essays. In "Wolves," for example, he describes a poignant encounter with an old cur with brittle--looking fur and missing teeth and a meeting with a mother and her pups, "cinnamon-colored furballs atop uncertain legs," and outlines common misunderstandings about the wolf and the importance of the research done by Adolph Murie (Olaus' brother). Elsewhere he recounts how Mardy became, in 1924, the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska, while government biologist Olaus took part in a six-year study of caribou in the Alaska Territory. Waterman is an excellent champion for the refuge: his scientific knowledge, writing skills, and moderate stance give his views genuine authority and make for a glowing tribute to the 19-million-acre refuge (see also Rick Bass' Caribou Rising [BKL Ag 04]). Rebecca Maksel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Unfortunately the book has some problems with readability. Waterman's main point, about how you really have to experience the refuge firsthand to understand it, is spread out very thinly across at least a dozen concurrent narratives and storylines. Segments covering various portions of the Muries' lives, several of Waterman's different trips, a history of Alaska, oil business economics, the biology of the caribou herds and other animals, environmental politics, and naturalist philosophy are all mixed together haphazardly and in no particular chronological order. Waterman also gets a bit maudlin in his attempts to conjure up the appropriate language to describe the wonders of the refuge, with occasional croakers like "letting my body become the universe in which it walked." The nonlinear construction of the book really saps the energy out of Waterman's potentially powerful insights about communing with nature overall, and the fate of the ANWR specifically. But he still manages to convey the feeling of the potential loss of a tremendous national treasure in favor of miniscule economic and political gains. [~doomsdayer520~]
Unfortunately, like the Madsen book, this book is deeply flawed. The entire book is wrapped up with an air of self-importance, the stories' drama seemed intended more to impress us about Waterman's courage than to enlighten us, the book was massively overwritten and desperately needed heavy editing, and the putative linkages between Waterman's experiences and the Muries are frequently incomprehensible.
I actually enjoyed reading about the Muries, and Waterman does a decent job telling their story. It made me wonder if a good biography about the Muries is available. That would be worth reading. However, this book is not an adequate substitute for a legitimate biography of them. Because it cuts between Waterman and the Muries constantly, the book is choppy and, frankly, the parts about Waterman just aren't that interesting.
Thus, like the Madsen book, I don't recommend this book. It only reinforces that Debbie Miller's seminal Midnight Wilderness book is so much better than the subsequent copycat books. Get Miller's book instead.
The photo sections show the glorious mountains (unnamed) but I would have enjoyed them more in color. I watched the majesty of the penguins in the movie 'The March of the Penguins.' I know it was supposedly located in Antarctica, but most movies these days are filmed in Canada. We saw those determined fowl make their seventy-mile march to an area to propagate their species. If this wildlife area is disturbed, the majestic penguins will be lost, no place to go to find a mate, and the species of large birds will be lost. Why, they need that yearly ritual to go back to the place they were born.
Prince William Sound is full of oil in abundance; this book shows how the hunt for that valuable source of fuel for the many cars Americans own is destroying Alaska's wilderness and people. I know two people who lived in Alaska, one worked in the fish industry and has moved from Knoxville on to Texas. The other is still here but has made a trip back to Alaska in the past two months. If these folks from other places who lived and worked there have that dedication, then the natives should be considered and left to their own wishes (remain at home). Home is where you were born, and being displaced is, or should be, un-American. The Eskimoes love their land even in the long, dark winters and the savage windstorms with resulting ice/snow everywhere.
It will not benefit the world to have this area destroyed to satisfy the rich who can afford many autos and vans. Let them ride the buses like I do. We should not encourage the use of gas and oil at the expense of destruction of our lovely Penguins and Caribou. Remember what happened to the buffalo here in the Western part of America!
Robert Service wrote in "The Spell of the Yukon,' there's a land where the mountains are nameless...there are hardships that nobody reckons...and I want to go back -- and I will." I applaud this spirit of the American west. Jonathan Waterman is such a devoted advocate for the far North taking eighteen trips and trekking cross-country in that vast wilderness.
He has written A MOST HOSTILE MOUNTAIN, HIGH ALASKA, ARCTIC CROSSING and KAYAKING THE VERMILION SEA. He is a Paul Theroux of Alaska and should be heeded in this endeavor to save a Wildlife Refuge from the greedy hands of politicians.