Extreme North: A Cultural History

Tantor Audio. Feb. 2022. tr. from German by Jefferson Chase. 8:25 hrs. ISBN 9781666185348. $14.95. HIST
German historian Brunner’s (Taming Fruit) latest work is a riveting survey of the intellectual and cultural history of “The North.” Broadly exploring events from prehistory to the present, Brunner also crisscrosses a wonderfully diverse number of disciplines, including geography, climatology, literature and folklore, and political sociology. Beginning with the concept of the “North,” Brunner focuses on the Arctic Region: the North Pole, Scandinavia, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, and Canada. In an academic but engaging tone, Brunner describes how the lore of the North was often shaped by people who never actually visited the region and how it is often difficult to distinguish actual events from mythologization and appropriation. Brunner shows how some tried to use the North and its people to further the concept of a superior white race while marginalizing other groups like Jewish and Inuit people.
VERDICT Jonathan Yen’s confident delivery and masterful pronunciations of the many non-English terms draw listeners into Brunner’s descriptions of the almost magical beauty of the far North, while his expressive readings of the racist and pseudoscientific perversions of the region (by Nazis and other white supremacists) will stay with listeners long after the audiobook has ended.
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