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Download The Ice Finders : How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age epub

by Edmund Blair Bolles

Swiss professor Louis Agassiz (1807-73) spent decades arguing that his conception of an Ice Age was not madness. Geologist and master politician Charles Lyell (1797-1875) tried to reconcile his own observations with scientific principles that made an Ice Age impossible. Adventurer and poet Elisha Kent Kane (1820-57) was trapped at the top of Greenland for two winters and portrayed a harsh and frozen landscape that made the Ice Age credible. Bolles, a prolific and popular science writer, tells the tale. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Download The Ice Finders : How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age epub
ISBN: 1582430306
ISBN13: 978-1582430300
Category: History
Subcategory: Ancient Civilizations
Author: Edmund Blair Bolles
Language: English
Publisher: Counterpoint (December 1, 1999)
Pages: 257 pages
ePUB size: 1269 kb
FB2 size: 1412 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 196
Other Formats: lit mbr mobi txt

If the topic interests you, read the book its good; reminded me of an episode of "Connections".
My only complaint is the book is very small physically 240pgs is really more like 125 or so of a normal size book. Knowing the history of Elisha Kane this treatment is very brief at best, but thats not the intent. If Artic exploration is interesting, highly recommend a survey of Artic explorers in the 19th C "The Artic Grail" by Pierre Berton (out of print but easily found on -- "The Ice Finders" makes a nice footnote to the Artic Grail and Elisha Kane.
A narrow subject, but the author brings out the main protagonists and the bickering and debating that went on before the question was settled. Unlike Global warming, or climate change, or whatever the current debate is, you can relate the reasons for cranky arguments and silly theories to what went on in this book.
Dava Sobel's Longitude seems to have established a new trend for science and technology writing. Instead of trying to produce broad histories, more books are coming out that focus on a specific area or development.
This one, for example, covers the development of the theory that there was once an "ice age," an era when glaciers covered much of the earth. This was heady stuff for the geologists of the 1830s, already reeling from evidence that the earth was millions or billions of years old, rather than the thousands indicated by the Bible. In fact, one of the tales of this book is the sometimes irrational resistance of established scientists to this radical but evident new concept, as Louis Agassiz turns himself from an establishment figure into a maverick by championing it and guardian of the orthodoxy Charles Lyell, author of the authoritative textbook of geology, first resists it and finally adopts it in a way that suggests he was right all along. The making of science is not always a pretty sight and is often rather different from the tidy displacement of an outdated theory by a more current, better supported one. It's frequently much more of a fight than that, and the theory of an ice age is an example of such.
But that's just one of the threads of this book. The other is the adventure of explorer-poet Elisha Kent Kane, who ostensibly seeks the remains of Franklin's polar expedition, gets stuck in the ice for two years (a harrowing experience related in painful detail), and finally returns with clear documentary evidence of the massive ice formations that Agassiz needs as the final justification for his theory.
The two threads are related in episodes, which gets a little confusing, particularly when one notes that the Kane expedition narrative covers a time period well after most of the Agassiz narrative. However, one quickly gets used to this and moves on.
All in all, it's a very interesting story that shows how science is made.
In the early 1800s, geology was making its first major claims on ground previously held by religion. It had become apparent that the sediments of the world did not trace to a single forty-day flood. Plus, fossils of extinct creatures were being identified, suggesting that death had been present in the world before the creation of Man, contrary to the Bible. Now, at the time of this book, the new habit of observing nature without preconceptions was giving rise to the notion that Europe had once been iced over by gigantic glaciers--a form of destruction found nowhere in Scripture. This book is the story of how the glacial hypothesis was broached, how it was hooted down for decades, and then finally accepted once people became acquainted with the giant glaciers of Greenland. The accounts of the exploration of the coast of Greenland are thrilling--this is quite a long way from running climate modeling programs on a computer! This episode in the history of science certainly bears out the importance of imagination, for the idea that the Alps and the Scottish tarns were once locked under moving ice was quite beyond the scientific establishment of the day. In most other popularized science history books I've chanced to read, Louis Agassiz is portrayed as the doddering, hidebound anti-evolutionist. So it is good to see his vibrant, groundbreaking early career told here. This is a very insightful account of how science's view of the world changes under the weight of new evidence, and how it sometimes takes a leap of imagination before everything appears to fit.
This is a wonderful little book about three individuals deeply involved in the exploration and discovery of the earth and it's origins during the 19th century - Louis Agassiz a Swiss Professor and politician; Elsisha Kent Kane, who spent two years trapped in the ice of Greenland and published "Arctic Explorations," his account of the ordeal; and Charles Lyell, a Scottish Geologist.

Bolles interweaves each figure's story and experiences as they work their way toward the discovery and acceptance of the previous Ice Ages and how they explain many argued about features of earth, such as erratic boulders and glacial moraines - many of which were accepted as the outcome of biblical events. And these primary explanations were a major hurdle to our ever-expanding understand of the earth, it's origins as ours.

The names of these three individuals will probably be familiar to any reader of Arctic Exploration, Discovery and History.


A Guide to my Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.