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North Pole: Nature and Culture
— —
Michael Bravo
North Pole: Nature and Culture by Michael Bravo at Abbey's Bookshop,

North Pole: Nature and Culture

Michael Bravo


Reaktion Books

History of other lands;
Ancient history: to c 500 CE;
Social & cultural history;
Ancient religions & mythologies;
Mathematics & Sciences;
History of science


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In North Pole, Michael Bravo explains how visions of the North Pole have been supremely important to the world's cultures and political leaders, from Alexander the Great to neo-Hindu nationalists. Tracing poles and polarity back to their sacred ancient civilizations, this book explores how the idea of a North Pole has given rise to utopias, satires, fantasies, paradoxes and nationalist ideologies, from the Renaissance to the Third Reich.

The Victorian conceit of the polar regions as a vast empty wilderness, and the preserve of white males battling against the elements, was far from the only polar vision. Michael Bravo shows an alternative set of pictures, of a habitable Arctic criss-crossed by densely connected networks of Inuit routes, rich and dense in cultural meanings. In Western and Eastern cultures, theories of a sacred North Pole abound. Visions of paradise and a lost Eden have mingled freely with the imperial visions of Europe and the United States. Forebodings of failure and catastrophe have been companions to tales of conquest and redemption.

Michael Bravo shows that visions of a sacred or living pole can help humanity understand its twenty-first-century predicament, but only by understanding the pole's deeper history.

By:   Michael Bravo
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 148mm, 
ISBN:   9781789140088
ISBN 10:   1789140080
Series:   Earth
Publication Date:   January 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Bravo's original study rediscovers an astonishing history of how the North Pole has been imagined and pursued across centuries and diverse cultures. From Inuit cosmography to Renaissance poetry, through Neoplatonic mathematics, mysticism, naval sciences, and ethnonationalism, Bravo uncovers the strange contours and multiple identities that continue to give the North Pole such magnetic charisma today. --Adriana Craciun, Boston University, Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration In North Pole, Bravo shows how one of the most inhospitable places on Earth has played a central role in cultures from the Inuit and ancient Greeks to the great nineteenth-century polar explorers and today's environmentalists. It is an utterly unique piece of cultural history. . . . Bravo's erudition is extraordinary, as is his fluent, accessible, and witty prose . . . As he observes at the end of this tremendous book, there are no visas required at the North Pole; it is the ultimate point of transnational cooperation and hope for our common futures. This is connected history at its finest; a wonderful achievement. --Jerry Brotton, Queen Mary University of London, author of A History of the World in Twelve Maps At the start of his book, Bravo promises to 'treat the mysterious power and allure of the North Pole in a way you will not have seen before.' It is a promise he fulfills in North Pole, a narrative that avoids the usual histories of exploration. His mission is to chart the layers of meaning that the pole has accumulated in our minds and that motivates the explorers who try to reach it. . . . Bravo has written a rich and insightful book about our ideas of the pole. Although his focus is the North Pole, it left me thinking about the stories we all tell ourselves in our everyday lives. --Alun Anderson New Scientist

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