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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon

 

 

 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land

by Subhankar Banerjee

The Mountaineers Books
ISBN: 0 89886 909 9 (hardcover), 9 89886 438 0 (paperback)
Price: US$35.00 (hardcover), US$22.95 (paperback)

In his quest to photograph polar bears in the wild, Indian-born Subhankar Banerjee travelled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in the northeastern part of Alaska. He quickly developed a passion for the land and its inhabitants, which culminated in this book of stunning photography.

He travelled for 14 months together with his Inupiat guide, Robert Thompson, covering 3000 miles during the winter months and 1000 during the summer season. Beginning in the winter and travelling through to the following winter. They travelled on foot, by raft, kayak and snowmobile, thereby reaching the heart of the land and its people.

They saw black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears, caribou and moose, Dall sheep, muskox, lynx, wolf and wolverine, and even a porcupine. Among the hundreds of species of bird were ducks and geese, lemmings, loons, ptarmigans, snow buntings, bald eagles and falcons. Plant life was abundant, too. This is definitely not a barren landscape as so many people wrongly assume.

They lived in a tent and cooked on a small stove. At its coldest, the temperature dropped to -40 ºF and the wind blew up to 60 miles per hour; windchill could bring the temperature down to -100 ºF or lower. Banerjee's survival was due to Thompson, in whom he had complete trust and who taught him how to live and work in those extreme conditions.

This evocative book has been used to defend the land from political and commercial exploitation. Among other facts, it points out that despite its distance, the ANWF is inextricably connected to the rest of the US: it plays host to birds from all fifty states,who migrate there to nest and rear their young. This is America's last wilderness and Banerjee has done his best towards helping preserve it for generations to come.

Launched in May 2003, this is the first comprehensive photographic portrait of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to cover all four seasons. Banerjee tells his story through 200 full colour photographs and eight personal accounts, supported with essays by Peter Matthiessen, David Allen Sibley, George Schaller and others. The book has endorsements from Jane Goodall, Barry Lopez, Robert Redford and Edward O. Wilson and a Foreword by Jimmy Carter.

The book was supported by a travelling exhibition, and fine art prints of images from the book are available to purchase.

 

Reviewed by S.G. Servian

 

 

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