The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

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9780195183689: The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World
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Sea ice and the midnight sun, flaming aurora and endless winter night--the arctic of traveler's tales and romantic novels is the unattainable dream of a vast and desolate world--the last imaginary place on Earth.
Now, in this fascinating volume, renowned archeologist Robert McGhee lifts the veil to reveal the true Arctic. Combining anthropology, history, and personal memoir, this book dispels romanticized notions of the Arctic as a world apart, exotic and isolated, revealing a land far more fascinating than we had imagined. McGhee paints a vivid portrait of the movement of Viking farmers across the North Atlantic islands, and of the long and arduous searches for sea-passages to Asia. We meet the fur-traders who pioneered European expansion across the northern forests of Canada and Siberia, the whalers and ivory-hunters who ravaged northern seas, and patriotic explorers racing to reach the North Pole. Most important, McGhee offers far more coverage of the native peoples of the Arctic, societies that other histories usually neglect. We discover how northerners have learned to exploit a rich "hunter's world" where game is, contrary to our expectations, far easier to find than in more temperate lands. McGhee takes us to a thousand-year-old Tuniit campsite perfectly preserved in the Arctic cold, follows the entrepreneurial Inuit as they cross the Arctic in search of metal, and reveals the dangers that native people face today from industrial pollution and global warming.
Flavored by McGhee's personal reflections based on thirty years of work and travel in the region, here is a wide ranging, enlightening look at one of the most culturally rich and fascinating areas of the world.

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About the Author:


Robert McGhee is the Curator of Arctic Archeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. An archeologist who has conducted over thirty years of research on the ancient peoples of the Arctic, he was awarded the 2000 Massey Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Canada's highest award for excellence in the geographical sciences. He lives in near Ontario, Canada.

Review:


"What McGhee has accomplished in this enthralling book is both a canvas of our imaginary Arctic--the Ultima Thule and Gog and Magog "otherworld" in our literary heads--and a history of anthropology of the real thing, from shamanism to the Eddas to the Gulag Archipelago."--Harpers


"Compelling.... The author lets his love for the region shine through on every page.... He recounts life in Arctic Siberia, Vikings and Arctic farmers, life among the Inuit people, ice and death on the Northeast Passage, gold mining, and early exploration of Hudson Bay. He believes that the Arctic is not so much a region as a dream--what he sees as a dream of a unique attractive world, the last imaginary place on earth."--Booklist


"McGhee makes us care about this precious part of the world by putting color, flesh, diversity, and particularity back into a complex history and multifaceted human geography that has often been homogenized and generalized, removed from time and objectified. This is a beautiful book and a fine testimony to McGhee's expert and longstanding love of the Arctic."--Sherrill Grace, Professor of English at the University of British Columbia, and author of Canada and the Idea of North


"This is an important book by a prominent researcher and highly accomplished author who presents his global arctic view to readers here for the first time."--William Fitzhugh, Director, Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution


"The Last Imaginary Place is very well written and built on a lifetime of outstanding research. It succeeds in communicating some of the wonders of the Arctic and its extraordinary human history, while making the choices and challenges people have faced familiar and recognizable." --Susan Kaplan, Director, Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum & Arctic Studies Center, Bowdoin College


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9780226500898: The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

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