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Steller's Island: Adventures of a Pioneer Naturalist in Alaska
     

Steller's Island: Adventures of a Pioneer Naturalist in Alaska

by Dean Littlepage
 

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* Introduces a naturalist and explorer who predated Lewis and Clark and John Muir

* Examines the historical legacy of the man whose name graces the Steller's jay, Steller sea lion, Steller's eider, and more

* Places Steller's journey in context for today, following the impact of his discoveries to the present

In 1741, a Russian expedition ship captained by

Overview

* Introduces a naturalist and explorer who predated Lewis and Clark and John Muir

* Examines the historical legacy of the man whose name graces the Steller's jay, Steller sea lion, Steller's eider, and more

* Places Steller's journey in context for today, following the impact of his discoveries to the present

In 1741, a Russian expedition ship captained by Vitus Bering carried the first scientist to set foot anywhere on the western half of North America. Georg Steller would introduce the world to the staggering wealth and diversity of life of the North Pacific, providing the first European accounts of the sea otter, sea lion, northern fur seal, native Alaskan Chugach people, and more. Steller's Island is a fascinating tale of the rewards and perils of exploration in this era. It is about the courage of scientific curiosity, even in uncharted waters, alien lands, and desperate circumstances, including storms, scurvy, and shipwreck.

Steller traveled deep into the wild with little on his back. In the one day Bering permitted him to explore Kayak Island along the southern Alaskan coast, he catalogued more than one hundred previously unknown plants. He was the only European naturalist to see the spectacled cormorant alive and his is our one and only account of the now extinct Steller's sea cow. In accounts of the Chugach and Aleut people, Steller was the first scientist to hypothesize an Asian origin for Native Americans. The crew of the St. Peter credited him with their lives: His novel prescription of wild greens cured their scurvy, and his knowledge of sea mammals and Native hunting techniques meant food for the starving.

Editorial Reviews

Natural History Magazine
"Kayak Island, where Steller first came ashore in North America [is] no longer a blank spot on the map, as it was in Steller's time, but Littlepage helps the reader understand the excitement the young explorer must have felt 250 years ago, fresh-eyed and eager to be amazed"
Alaska History
"If you read this book with the idea of finding a biography of Steller you will be disappointed. If you peruse it with the thought of learning more about the natural history of Alaska as noted in 1741 you will enjoy it. Your choice."
The Midwest Book Review
"A wide audience will find this absorbing, from any library specializing in Alaskan history to general-interest holdings where patrons seek true-life adventure or tales of scientific discovery."
EarthJustice Magazine
"A book that makes history touchable… we enjoy Steller without having to pay the adventurer's price: bitter northern winters, endless slogging drudgery, deprivations, and dangers galore… This fascinating little book reads like the vacation Littlepage took on his 20-mile exploration of Kayak Island. Fast and enjoyable."
Seattle Times - David Williams
"Littlepage has written a first-rate account of Steller and the Bering Expedition's year in the Pacific. He brings the science and personalities to life, as well as providing modern insights on both. He also shows how much has been lost since the great naturalist's time…Modern scientists are fortunate to have Steller's descriptions, and modern readers are fortunate to have Littlepage's book."
Alaska Airlines
"This gripping story of Steller's explorations puts the reader in the era of sailing ships and uncharted wilderness, and reveals the natural beauty of Alaska the way Steller saw it more than two centuries ago"
Wilderness Medicine magazine
Hikers, historians, and conservationists will appreciate Littlepage's well-researched, thought-provoking narrative.
Daily Sentinel
"If you peruse [the book] with the thought of learning more about the earliest natural history of Alaska as noted in 1741, you will enjoy it."
Fairbanks Daily News
"Littlepage provides a gripping and vivid account of the struggles the surviving crewmen endured"

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594850578
Publisher:
Mountaineers Books, The
Publication date:
09/15/2006
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author






DEAN LITTLEPAGE served as a special exhibits curator for the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. The author of Hiking Alaska, his articles have appeared in Orion, Backpacker, Alaska Geographic, and the Anchorage Daily News, among other publications.

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