The North Pole is in the Arctic Ocean, under a vast sheet of drifting ice that was ten feet thick when submarines using sonar began measuring it in 1958. Now, it has diminished to six feet thick. Why this has happened (global warming) and why it matters to us is a sub-theme of the book.
The main theme is the author's trip to the North Pole in 2002 on a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker. Her account of the journey is juxtaposed with excerpts from the gripping diary of Fridtjof Nansen, an explorer who traveled in the area by dogsled a hundred years ago. Brown also includes 120 photographs and eight conversations with various experts on history, wildlife, exploration, and current scientific ideas concerning this empty but strangely compelling and symbolic spot on the surface of the earth.
"The North Pole by Kathan Brown is an eloquent book that defies conventional categorization. Part travelogue, it is also a testament to the aspiration of human endeavor and a warning about the potentially devastating effect of global warming... The book illustrates the complex, fragile interconnections of nature and shows how inhabitants of this place, whether animal or human have adapted to survive... Kathan Brown's book leaves one with a tangible sense of this awesome place and moving examples of the courage of those who have sought to experience it. "-Printmaking Today
"One might be tempted to classify The North Pole as a travel book, but Kathan Brown's exquisite writing and pictures trancend the just-the-facts style of most publications of the genre. Not only does she record her observations, but she incorporates words from an old journal, conversations with members of the expedition and interviews with others familiar with the region. Brown also explores the history and physical aspects of the Arctic and discusses the effects of global warming...This is a book of stunning images and insightful observations." -San Francisco Chronicle
"Lyrical and practical by turns, an apt portrait of a haunting landscape along with an ample variety of scientific views on the climate and ecology." -Kirkus Discoveries
Published by Crown Point Press, 2004. 504 pp., with 120 color photographs.