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
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