At the Ends of the Earth: A History of the Polar Regions

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Island Press, 2001 - Nature - 286 pages
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"The story of the Arctic and Antarctic is of two regions quite unlike any other.... It is a story of interweaving cycles in which exploration leads to exploitation, and exploitation to further exploration. It is a story of how even such remote realms can significantly affect, and in turn be deeply influenced by, events and trends thousands of miles distant -- of how the long shadow of humanity has extended, for better and for worse, to the very ends of the Earth." --from the PrologueFor thousands of years, the polar regions have been a source of intrigue and fascination; even today -- despite having been thoroughly mapped and explored, despite being home to permanent human settlements and scientific stations -- they remain places of mystery. Remote, cold, barren, and inhospitable, they nonetheless exert an undeniable hold on the human imagination.At the Ends of the Earth is an engrossing natural and human history of the two polar regions. In vivid and engaging prose, author Kieran Mulvaney presents the fascinating story of human interactions with the Arctic and Antarctic from prehistory through centuries of European exploration to more recent issues involving Cold War politics, oil and gas drilling, tourism, and global warming.Beginning with the earliest myths and legends of undiscovered lands far to the north and south, Mulvaney offers an in-depth look at these two regions that are so similar yet so distinct. His compelling narrative brings to life the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes as well as the people who have explored, lived in, and exploited them. Stories of native Arctic peoples and the changes brought by the arrival of Europeans are contrasted with equally striking stories of Antarctic exploration and high-stakes battles over whether that vast continent should be exploited or protected.Throughout, the author highlights both the direct and indirect impacts of human activity on polar landscapes, considering the ways in which these fragile and pristine environments represent a kind of miner's canary alerting us to the potentially irreparable changes we are wreaking on our global environment. At the Ends of the Earth offers a unique look at an intriguing facet of world history and provides an important context for understanding both successful and failed polar expeditions, as well as the motivations behind them.
  

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At the Ends of the Earth: A History Of The Polar Regions

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Mulvaney, who has published work in E and New Scientist, is a strong environmentalist and supporter of Greenpeace and marine mammal conservation. Tracing the history of the polar regions from ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
Poles Apart
9
Hunting ther Bowhead
27
Terra Incognita
63
So Remorseless a Havoc
89
The Last Wilderness
117
Crude Awakening
161
The Ends of the Earth
199
Epilogue
243
Notes
247
Selected Bibliography
261
Acknowledgments
269
Index
273
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

KIERAN MULVANEY is the author of "At the Ends of the Earth: A History of the Polar Regions" and "The Whaling Season: The Struggle to Stop Commercial Whaling". He has traveled extensively in the Arctic and Antarctic. He has written for the Washington Post Magazine, the Guardian, New Scientist, and BBC Wildlife and is a correspondent for Discovery News and Reuters.

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