15 May 2010
I wish i had held back on this book until August! Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places by Bill Streever is about, obviously, the cold! Each chapter is titled after a month of the year, starting in July and finishing in June. The subjects in each chapter aren't specific to each month though, as the author lives in Alaska he does detail the seasons as they pass in his state.
The stories Streever tells wander around; if you are looking for a straightforward beginning to end book you won't find it here. For instance, the history of scientists' attempts to get down to absolute zero is spread over several chapters. He discusses how geologists realized that glaciers once covered Europe and North America, the men who failed and succeed reaching the North and South Poles, the history of refrigeration, the structure of synthetic fabrics and the biology of Arctic animals. He goes into more mundane topics, like how skis work and ice hotels.
The scatter-shot way the book flows is one thing i had a hard time with. I would start to get into a particular storyline only to loose it for another chapter or two. It also covered so much; there was breadth but not depth in the book. I could read an entire book on those explorers, or how people from various cultures handle the cold, or the history of weather prediction. Overall, i do recommend it for general knowledge reading. a 5. and hey, my first book for the Science Book Challenge!