Eager to investigate rumours of land north of Alaska, Ernest deKoven Leffingwell and Ejnar Mikkelsen organized the 1906 Anglo American Polar Expedition. Despite extreme conditions, they determined the edge of the continental shelf – a significant geographic discovery. Leffingwell remained behind, and with substantial assistance from his Inupiat neighbours, the driven young geologist explored, surveyed and documented geography along Alaska's north coast and what is now the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). On the North Slope of the Brooks Range, he pioneered research in ground ice (permafrost), observed birds, and collected wildlife specimens. His groundbreaking work still informs scientists and scholars.
Along with her own passion for the Arctic, Janet R. Collins, former director of the Huxley Map Library at Western Washington University, has an undergraduate degree in geography and a master's degree in library science. For Leffingwell's biography, she consulted his journals and professional reports, family papers and memories, and published and unpublished writings of Alice Barnard, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and Ejnar Mikkelsen.
A closely researched, sensitively observed, and handsomely illustrated study. . . . This is a gem of a book, enhanced by prose as crystal clear as Thirlmere's fabled waters.
- Peter Coates, Environmental History
"[Ritvo's] book conveys in vividly minute particulars how difficult and frustrating the campaign must have been, and how divided the campaigners were in their loyalties. Without such detail, lessons cannot be learnt. Nor is documentation allowed to obscure the larger picture. Ritvo shows the whole business to be, in contrary ways, representative of its times: 'if Manchester was the icon of the Victorian future, the Lake District was the icon of nature, poetry and heritage.'"
- Times Higher Education