Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009
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'A poetic, anecdotal narrative complete with polar expeditions, Ice Age mysteries, igloos, permafrost, and hailstorms...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.' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
'Mr Streever writes with passion and fills his book with entertaining facts' - ECONOMIST
'He sculptures lucid explanations and fires them with fine writing'- NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
'Mr Streever's prose does what E L Doctorow says good writing is supposed to do, which is to evoke sensation in the reader' - The New York Times
A wide-ranging narrative adventure through the coldest places, chilliest times and frostiest experiences on EarthSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
With COLD, Biologist Bill Streever has penned another of those popular science books about the environment we live in that I personally find so informative and entertaining, especially since I'm not expected to be tested on the material afterwards.
In twelve chapters sequentially entitled with the year's months beginning with July - "It is July first and fifty-one degrees above zero" - and ending with June - "It is June twentieth ... and 60 degrees Fahrenheit", Streever delivers a wealth of stories and information about cold and its effects on more things than you'll ever need to know to stay warm and snugly. Actually, it's an amiable jumble of anecdotes, historical references, and facts where the only connecting thread, besides "cold" itself, is the progression of named chapters and the vantage point from which the author generally observes and writes, which is Alaska where Streever lives (though he personally manages to get out-of-state some).
The span of Bill's cold-related topics is chilling, but not in the frightening sense. (Cold - chilling. Get it?) After beginning with accounts of the hardships and deaths of various arctic and Antarctic explorers just to establish the understanding that lack of heat needs to be taken seriously, the author ranges far and wide.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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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