11 February, 2013
The Last Kings of Thule by Jean Malaurie (1955)
In 1950, Malaurie, a French geographer/ethnographer, spent a year living with the most northern people on Earth - the Inughuit - while he mapped the northern reaches of Greenland and recorded their disappearing lifestyle. From hunting techniques and remarkable ice sea crossings to Canada, to consensual partner swapping to stay sane through the interminably long, dark winters, it is the irrepressible personalities of the Eskimos that really shine in this memorable book. The account finishes with the building of a huge, secret US airbase at Thule heralding the end of their harsh but happy traditional way of life – something subsequent editions go on to detail.