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Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown US; 1 edition (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316042919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316042918
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,835,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'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

Book Description

A wide-ranging narrative adventure through the coldest places, chilliest times and frostiest experiences on Earth

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Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Take a pair of cotton jeans, throw them in a mountain stream or a pond or a bathtub full of water, and take them out. They are heavy with water. Cotton kills because the fibers hold water. They will suck the heat right out of the unfortunate victim foolish enough to wear them in the cold. For survival in the cold, naked skin may be better than wet cotton jeans." - from COLD

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Not quite what I expected from the title. Quite a boring read, attempting to be interesting. Too much about Alaska, too little about the rest of the Arctic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x97a575c4) out of 5 stars 104 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97afe4f8) out of 5 stars Shades of Farley Mowat! 9 Aug. 2009
By Jan Fechhelm - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Having spent a few short weeks (way, way too short an amount of time!) in the Arctic, reading this book makes me ache to return. I missed so much - I was so clueless! Reading "Cold - Adventures in the World's Frozen Places" was a very unexpected delight! I am not usually a reader of non-fiction, but this book was so interesting and well writen. The language is rich and well developed, the stories are great, the science is fascinating and most importantly, you can easily tell how much the author loves everything cold, but especially Alaska and the far north.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97953708) out of 5 stars new generation of eco-criticism 6 Aug. 2009
By Seth Lerer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful, evocative book about not just the science or experience of cold but the poetics of the chill. Mr. Streever is an accomplished scientist and nature writer, and this book goes beyond his previous publications to embrace the science and the spirit of the outdoors. Throughout the book, he blends technical observation with historical reference, literary allusion, and personal memoir. Writing of this kind moves beyond the generation of John McPhee -- with its precise detachment and patrician elegance -- and it moves beyond, too, the exhortations of Bill McKibben. IF there is a future for eco-criticism, it may lie precisely in the fractured narrative of Streever's Alaska. In many ways, the arc of the book captures what must be the Alaskan experience: a collection of memories and materials, brought in from "outside," and reassembled into public spaces and private imaginations. It may well be that the the book's controlling structure, then, mirrors the midnight-sun pastiche that is this state, and it's good to know that, whatever the politics may be on that peninsula, there is a profound sensitivity to life and writing among people such as Mr. Streever.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97785fe4) out of 5 stars Warmth for Cold 7 Aug. 2009
By Dennis Haarsager - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With so much heat in our future -- global warming, Dante's Inferno, the aging Sun enlarging to swallow the Earth -- why should cold be such a fascinating topic? In long, long time, a leading theory of the end of the universe called "heat death" says that absolute cold is the fate of us all -- or at least of our atomic remains. Cold, in other words, is the natural order of things.

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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x976ec33c) out of 5 stars A Place You'll Never Be 31 Aug. 2009
By Michael Goodell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Bill Streever's "Cold: Adventures in the World's Coldest Places," is at once a splendid travel narrative and a sort of "Cryogenics For Dummies." Streever has that unique ability to convey complex scientific principles and theories in an accessible and readable manner. More than this, though, he delievers highly evocative descriptions of landscapes and nature, or cities and citizens, and he includes plenty of subtle wit and dry humor.

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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97a57108) out of 5 stars If You Learn Absolutely Zero From This Book Then Your Brain Must Be Frostbitten 7 Sept. 2009
By Richard Dicanio - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a refreshing blast of cold air.For someone who is familiar with much of both Arctic and Antarctic issues, I was impressed with obtaining more information on both supra and subnivean topics. Weather,climate,animal migration and winter habits,permafrost and various other sundry topics polar and non- polar are touched upon.Global warming was also addressed in a non threatening circuitous way as well as exploration past and present with some references to the giants of polar history and their work within the deep, cold, interiors.Particularly interesting was the discussion of the conquest of cold which is the title of another wonderful book by the same name written by Tom Shachtman back in 1999 which I read and is referred to by Mr.Streever several times and should be read after this one if your interest grows deeper.Cold is well written by a scientist over the course of a years time with globe trotting observations but always returning to his home state of Alaska in what appears to be a sort of grounding for him.The book itself imparts lots of facts and factoids that can only help not hinder one who studies the frigidly wonderful topic of cold.For those in the know this ground may have already been covered by you and some may find it lacking or just National Geographicalish in its approach. But sometimes old dogs can learn new tricks and books like this can generate new areas of inquiry and reference as it did for me. It helps keep it fresh to read new things even at the risk of going over old material.It is recommended as a good primer for the novice to further ones' appreciation of the ice and its expansive history as well as the problems it can cause and may give you a better admiration of your refrigerator or air conditioner for without those people who did the work, those individuals in history who said, "Gee whiz, its hot in here, my food is rotting and I'm sweating like a pig,what can I do about that"? Now you can erect an alter to the men who fixed that for you right in your own freezer.Be that as it may, I found it very enjoyable and breezed through it quite fast.It is written as if you were talking to a real lonely, arctic scientist who doesn't get out much and is both extremely happy and excited to find a willing, captive, listener as topics tend to pop up and drift into another rather fast but you'll be able to follow his bent.So button up with confidence with some useful information on insulating fabrics,ours and the Eskimo's.The mechanisms of frostbite or how the Bose-Einstein condensate, atoms that form at absolute zero,about 460 degrees F. may someday change the world. Read and learn about this facinating corner of science and warm up to the concept of cold.A cup of hot cocoa may be in order. Enjoy the summer while you can, an ice age may be coming soon and just think, if it does, you'll be ready for it.
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