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Absoliutno blagopoluchnoe ozero Baikal! the Russian scientist looking out over the great lake says. "Lake Baikal is Perfect!" And humans can never harm it.
For a man cut loose from his life in the U.S., Lake Baikal-Siberia's sacred inland sea-becomes a place of pilgrimage, the focal point of a 25,000-mile journey by land and sea in search of connection, permanence, restoration and hope. Following a difficult divorce, veteran environmental journalist Peter Thomson sets off from Boston with his younger brother for one of nature's most remarkable creations, in one of the farthest corners of the planet.
Lake Baikal, a gargantuan crack in the Siberian plateau, is the world's largest body of fresh water, its deepest and oldest lake, and a cauldron of evolution, home to hundreds of unique creatures, including the world's only freshwater seal. It's also among the most pristine lakes on earth, with a mythical ability to protect itself from the growing human impact-a "perfect," self-cleansing ecosystem. A trip halfway around the world by train, cargo ship and rubber raft brings the brothers to a place of sublime beauty, deep history and immense natural power. But at Baikal they also find ominous signs that this perfect piece of nature could yet succumb to the even more powerful forces of human hubris, carelessness and ignorance.
Author's Note; Prologue: Blagopoluchnoe; Part One: The Sacred Sea; 1. A Flash of Blue Light; 2. Songs and Whispers; 3. The Earth Splits, Water Rushes In; 4. Into the Lake-Shallow; 5. Into the Lake-Deep; 6. Buryatia, in Black & White and Color; 7. On the Trail with Pod Boy and Monkey Mind; 8. Bad Roads are Good for Baikal; 9. Traveling and Staying Home; Part Two: 180@; 10. The Long Way Home; 11. The Great Circle; 12. Zigzag to Russia; 13. Power in the East; 14. Across the Sleeping Land; 15. Angels & Ghosts in Irkutsk; Part Three: Baikal, Too, Must Work; 16. One of the Best Enterprises in Russia; 17. Righteousness, Uncertainty and the Point of No Return; 18. Connecting the Dots; 19. Dr. Hope and Dr. Despair; 20. Blind Love is a Dangerous Thing; 21. 360@; Epilogue: The Great Baikal Chain; Acknowledgments; Illustration Credits; Source Notes and Further Reading
...beautifully written...BBC Focus Magazine, 2007 "A critical race to save the lake is on, and Thomson's travelogue will help the effort." Moscow Times 2007
"I took Peter Thomson's superb book,Sacred Sea, from my bag and started to read. Thomson travelled from his native Boston to Siberia in 2000 on a quest to mend a broken heart. He ended up giving it to Baikal. An environmentalist, he describes how the lake's ability to purify itself is down to one creature, an endemic microscopic shrimp called epischura baikalensis." -Mike Carter, The Guardian