Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon

Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon

by Michael Engelhard


$27.92 $29.95 Save 7% Current price is $27.92, Original price is $29.95. You Save 7%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Thursday, October 25?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details


Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon by Michael Engelhard

Prime Arctic predator and nomad of the sea ice and tundra, the polar bear endures as a source of wonder, terror, and fascination. Humans have seen it as spirit guide and fanged enemy, as trade good and moral metaphor, as food source and symbol of ecological crisis. Eight thousand years of artifacts attest to its charisma, and to the fraught relationships between our two species. In the White Bear, we acknowledge the magic of wildness: it is both genuinely itself and a screen for our imagination.

Ice Bear traces and illuminates this intertwined history. From Inuit shamans to Jean Harlow lounging on a bearskin rug, from the cubs trained to pull sleds toward the North Pole to cuddly superstar Knut, it all comes to life in these pages. With meticulous research and more than 160 illustrations, the author brings into focus this powerful and elusive animal. Doing so, he delves into the stories we tell about Nature—and about ourselves—hoping for a future in which such tales still matter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295999227
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication date: 11/14/2016
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,233,496
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Engelhard works as a wilderness guide in Arctic Alaska and holds an MA in cultural anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His books include Where the Rain Children Sleep: A Sacred Geography of the Colorado Plateau, the anthology Wild Moments: Adventures with Animals of the North, and a recent essay collection, American Wild: Explorations from the Grand Canyon to the Arctic Ocean. His writing has also appeared in Sierra, Outside, Audubon, National Wildlife, National Parks, High Country News, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsPolar Bear–Human Time Line Map: Territories of Northern Peoples and Polar Bear Range

1. A Beast for the Ages2. The Life and Death of a Superstar 3. The Bear as Early Commodity 4. Object of Scientific Curiosity 5. From White Terror to Trophy of Modernity 6. Zoo Bear and Circus Bear7. Honored Guest and Ten-Legged Menace 8. A Taste of the Wild 9. The Transformative Bear10. Helper and Protector 11. Lover, Super-Male, Mate 12. Archetype, Role Model, Eco Ambassador 13. Another Seaside Attraction

Notes Associations and Websites Selected Bibliography Index

What People are Saying About This

Philip Hoare

Like the whale, the polar bear is a seismographic animal, its fate a sensory prediction of our own. Michael Engelhard’s gorgeous synoptic survey of this icy cultural symbol speaks to this terrible, wonderful beauty, a paradoxical emblem of a world out of kilter. Beautifully written and tellingly illustrated, Engelhard’s Ice Bear sits on top of our world, regnant, threatened, intrinsically and endlessly evocative of the ever vexed meeting of human and natural history.

Andrew Derocher

Everybody loves polar bears but few likely know, or have ever pondered, why. In Ice Bear, Michael Engelhard weaves together the disparate pieces of our eclectic social and cultural fascination with polar bears. His tapestry of images further reveals our complex attachment to this Arctic icon.

Idaho Press Tribune - Richard Ellis

A great book about the greatest and most formidable of polar predators.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a dream of a bear book, full of riddles and wonders. I’ve got a dozen bear books on my shelf and Engelhard’s ICE BEAR is unique. It doesn’t tell us what the white bear is, rather it demonstrates how the white bear came to be what we think and say it is. Indeed it’s as much about humanity as it is about the polar bear, our fears, our yearnings, and our wacky human hubris in treating the polar bear as a zoological centerfold for our wildest fantasies. I’ve read essays of a more personal nature by Mr. Engelhard, in his collection AMERICAN WILD, but ICE BEAR is different: a heavily researched, big-picture study of the bear as conceived by human beings whether from the perspective of Native peoples or of popular American entertainment and advertising. Beyond his eye and his sensitivity as an outdoorsman, Engelhard brings to bear here his training as an anthropologist. The outlook is comprehensive but the style isn’t academic. The writing is easy, engaging, sometimes grimly understated. This is truly a cultural history of the polar bear, saddening, infuriating, often inspiring and always fascinating in the illustrations and anecdotes it introduces. ICE BEAR will leave some of us wondering whether we can know the “true nature” of another creature at all. But intellectual humility doesn’t impede Engelhard’s sympathy for his subject. The way forward in our relationship with the polar bear begins with understanding where we are and how we got here. A final observation. ICE BEAR is physically a gorgeous book, hefty but not too formidable, brilliantly laid out, and generously illustrated in color. This is the sort of book-book that can never be rivaled by an e-book. University of Washington Press should be applauded for making it.