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Revkin, Andrew C.: The North Pole; puzzles and perils at the top of the world.

REVKIN, Andrew C. The North Pole; puzzles and perils at the top of the world. Houghton Mifflin, Kingfisher. 128p. illus, bibliog. index, c2006. 978-0-7534-6138-9. $10.95. JS

The end of the calendar year seems a perfect time to review a book about the North Pole. Unlike the sentimental candy cane images, however, the Earth's northern geographical pole is a barren and hostile location that is completely unmarked and, in fact, isn't even on land. Rather, it is a calculable point on a constantly moving polar ice pack and the debate about who first stood on it, and who else might have reached it afterwards, still rages. In the meantime, anonymous scientists make uncomfortable camps on shifting ice floes and patiently go about their work while a horde of wealthy thrill-seekers parachute, kayak, snowmobile and ski their way to the Pole.

One of these recent travelers was Andrew C. Revkin, a writer for the New York Times who visited the Pole for three days in the summer of 2003. He watched the scientists at their measurements, studied their instruments, endured the expected discomforts, and enjoyed the visit of a Russian beauty queen whose contest prize was a trip to the Pole. A complete neophyte to Arctic conditions, Revkin was a great choice to write a book of this nature. Everything he saw was new and exciting to him, from the brightness of the polar sun to the primitive sanitary arrangements, and he describes his experiences with a reporter's exactness.

The book, in fact, is written in the form of journalistic reportage, each short chapter keyed to a different aspect of the Far North. Included with each chapter are two or three Arctic news stories taken from past issues of the Times. Numerous color photographs, charts, drawings, and illustrations explain the seasons, global warming, the polar ice pack, and the like. Far from a simple I-was-there adventure, the book presents young readers with a much wider concept of the polar north. YAs who might have regarded polar exploration as something out of the fusty past will be awakened to the world of today. Raymond Puffer, Ph.D, Historian (retired), Edwards AFB, Lancaster, CA

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:Puffer, Raymond
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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