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Arnold, Ann. Sea cows, shamans, and scurvy; Alaska's first naturalist: Georg Wilhelm Steller.

ARNOLD, Ann. Sea cows, shamans, and scurvy; Alaska's first naturalist: Georg Wilhelm Steller. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 216p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. c2008. 978-0-374-39947-4. $18.95. JS

This is a detailed and lavishly illustrated biography of Georg Wilhelm Steller (1707-1746), Alaska's first naturalist. The First Kamchatka Expedition led by Vitus Bering was a difficult one. The Second started in 1725 when Peter the Great ordered Bering to map the area between the Ural Mountains, across Siberia to Kamchatka, to claim the northwest coast of America. This was a monumental undertaking not unlike a military campaign. Steller joined the expedition in 1738 after a year of preparation. His journey included frozen rivers in winter and swollen rivers in the spring, horse-drawn sledges, storm-tossed ships, starvation, and scurvy. Along the way Steller collected thousands of specimens and learned much from native populations. He is the only scientist ever to describe, dissect, and eat the flightless spectacled cormorant. Species bear his name, including Steller's albatross, eider, jay, sculpin, sea cow, sea eagle, and sea lion. Arnold's exciting, harrowing account is personalized by excerpts from Steller's journal. Janet Julian, English Teacher (retired), Grafton, MA

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

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Author:Julian, Janet
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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