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On Arctic Ground: Tracking Time Through Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve by Debbie S. Miller

A call for the preservation of Alaska’s natural heritage, with exquisite photos.

At 23 million acres, Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve is the largest single unit of public lands in the United States, none of it permanently protected. Rich in oil, gas and coal, it is also home to an astounding diversity of plants and animals, many endangered and threatened; the migratory birds of six continents begin their lives in the Reserve. Debbie S. Miller’s On Arctic Ground is a striking plea for the conservation of this irreplaceable natural space.

Although it can be read cover to cover, the best way to enjoy this book is to take its short chapters one by one. Each provides mind-boggling details–like the bar-tailed godwit’s nonstop, 7,000-mile migration from western Alaska to New Zealand–and makes the starkly moving point that this incomparable area is highly vulnerable. Breathtaking full-page pictures throughout offer stunning portrayals of the Reserve’s strange and spectacular life forms.

This review originally ran in the Nov. 23, 2012 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Rating: 8 caribou.

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