“A deeply studied, deeply felt book that lays out a devastating but complex history of change, notes what faces us now, and dares us to imagine better.” - NPR
“Floating Coast is an extraordinary piece of history writing, seamlessly weaving together disparate elements. It is astonishingly rich in ethnographic detail, ecological precision, economic circumstance and historical texture.” - Nature
“This book has unsettled me like no other I’ve recently read…[Floating Coast] is brilliant.”
- Lucy Kogler, Literary Hub
“Floating Coast is rich, well researched and illuminating. It keeps under readers’ feet the vastness of Demuth’s expertise, as solid as a land bridge.” — The New York Times
“A superb book, essential reading for students of the once-and-future Arctic.”
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A cautionary, instructive tale highly recommended for readers with an interest in environmental conservation.”
- Library Journal (starred review)
Along the Bering Strait, through the territories of the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia, Bathsheba Demuth explores an ecosystem that has long sustained human beings. Yet when Americans and Europeans arrived with self-serving ideas of human progress, the Chukchi and Seward Peninsulas and surrounding waters became the site of an historical experiment. Here, the great modern ideologies of production and consumption, capitalism and communism, were subject to the pressures of arctic scarcity.
Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through these resources Demuth draws a vivid portrait of the sweeping effects of turning ecological wealth into economic growth and state power over the past century and a half. More urgent in a warming climate, and as we seek new economic ideas for a postindustrial age, Floating Coast delivers necessary warnings and poses provocative questions about human desires and needs in relation to environmental sustainability.