Monday, October 20, 2008

Alpine Americas: An Odyssey Along the Crest of Two Continents

Photography by Olaf Soot
Essays by Don Mellor
Alpine Americas is a mountaineer's tour of the 10,000 mile range of peaks from the Arctic to Patagonia. The book combines stunning mountain photography with elegant text that explores the places from all perspectives — geologic, historical, philosophical — as it takes readers up the cold wind-swept ridges of Denali or down into the caldron of a smoking Mexican volcano. Each mountain grouping is a different chapter. Each chapter focuses on a single element of what the place means to us. Brooks range in the Arctic, it's all about tranquility and the reassurance of seasonal patterns. Way to the South, in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, it's the chaos and conflict of the natural elements — angry winds and big weather — as the jagged landscape thrusts upward from the cold salt sea. Don Mellor's inspirational words and Olaf Sööt's magical photographs, Alpine Americas is the celebration of the western world's majestic high places.

My Review:
This large volume (14" x 12" x 1") will make a beautiful coffee table book and conversation starter. However, there are many other uses for it.

Essays by Don Mellor are informative; he uses his own mountain climbing experience to describe sights too awesome for words. Interesting details are given; for instance, the Alaskan pipeline debate is discussed along with the history of the Incas, Columbus and the discovery of America, and Magellan. I can see this book being used by homeschooling moms for history, geography, geology, and art lessons.

As I turned page after page, I quickly became a fan of Olaf Soot's phenomenal photography. I found myself oohing and aahing over and over. Lovers of artwork will appreciate this. So many magnificent color pages; this heavy volume will be passed down from generation to generation.

Whatever your age, you'll spend many happy hours climbing and investigating these mountains.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

The cover is gorgeous!