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In 1879 the USS Jeanette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds and a frenzy of publicity. The ship and its crew, captained by the heroic George De Long, were heading for glory and the last unmapped area of the globe: the North Pole. But it was not long before the Jeanette was trapped in crushing pack ice. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies, facing a seemingly impossible trek across the endless ice. Battling everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival. With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In the Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.
When Europeans arrived in North America, the average global temperature had dropped to lows unseen in millennia and its effects—famine, starvation, desperation, and violence—were stark among colonists unprepared to fend for themselves. This history of the Little Ice Age in North America reminds us of the risks of a changing and unfamiliar climate.
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Recent years have witnessed a surge in early modern ecostudies, many devoted to Shakespearean drama. Yet in this burgeoning discipline, travel writing appears moored in historicization, inorganic subjects are far less prevalent than organic ones, and freshwater sites are hardly visited. For All Waters explores these uncharted wetscapes. Lowell Duckert shows that when playwrights and travel writers such as Sir Walter Raleigh physically interacted with rivers, glaciers, monsoons, and swamps, they composed “hydrographies,” or bodily and textual assemblages of human and nonhuman things that dissolved notions of human autonomy and its singular narrativity. With a playful, punning touch woven deftly into its theoretical rigor, For All Waters disputes fantasies of ecological solitude that would keep our selves high and dry and that would try to sustain a political ecology excluding water and the poor. The lives of both humans and waterscapes can be improved simultaneously through direct engagement with wetness. For All Waters concludes by investigating waterscapes in peril today—West Virginia’s chemical rivers and Iceland’s vanishing glaciers—and outlining what we can learn from early moderns’ eco-ontological lessons. By taking their soggy and storied matters to heart, and arriving at a greater realization of our shared wetness, we can conceive new directions to take within the hydropolitical crises afflicting us today.

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