Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places

Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places
by Bill Streever
Little, Brown, 2009. 292 pgs. Nonfiction.

Streever begins his chilling narrative (ha ha, just kidding, sort of) with a plunge into Prudhoe Bay's 35 degree water so he can describe the feelings that precede hypothermia. From there he takes the reader over frost-heaved highways, under the snow to see the sub-nivean lives of lemmings, and into the world of thawing mammoths (who smell really, really bad). Pretty much everything you might imagine there is to know about cold and cold places, Streever knows and shares: hibernating ground squirrels whose blood actually freezes and who have to "shiver back to life," the quest for absolute zero; what to wear in the coldest of climates (yak wool is best). All these stories and experiences add up to a fascinating chronicle of cold, the anti-commodity we cannot live without.


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