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Book reviews for "Bowermaster,_Jon" sorted by average review score:

The Adventures and Misadventures of Peter Beard in Africa
Published in Hardcover by Bulfinch Press (December, 1993)
Author: Jon Bowermaster
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A fabulous biography on Peter Beard
"The Adventures and Misadventures of Peter Beard in Africa" is a spectacular look at the life of this well-known photagrapher and author. The writing is vivid and fascinating. The book is also illustrated throughout with Mr.Beard's excellent photographs. This book is a history lesson, ecology lesson, and art lesson all rolled up in one book, and is well worth reading. A real gem, about an amazing personality!

Aleutian Adventure : Kayaking in the Birthplace of the Winds
Published in School & Library Binding by National Geographic (March, 2001)
Author: Jon Bowermaster
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Students love this!
As a fourth grade teacher in the central California foothills, I am always looking for nonfiction titles with high interest for my classroom. A friend bought this book from Barry Tessman's widow and I immediately ordered a copy. We study Explorers and Geographers as part of our 4th grade curriculum and this book leads into a great discussion about modern day exploring. Pictures and maps are easy to read, text and font grade-appropriate, natural history and wildlife pictures very appealing.

Birthplace of the Winds
Published in Paperback by National Geographic (September, 2002)
Author: Jon Bowermaster
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Kayaking in the Aleutians - truly an adventure
Generally, I liked the book because I love the Aleutians and seakayaking, and there are not many books on the market that describe this combined experience.

However, some statements in the book are incorrect, e.g., when explaining plate tectonis, and I agree that the Aleutians are isolated and quiet, but they are definitely not untouched. There are islands you almost don't dare to step on because of unexploded ordnance or environmental hazards - all remnants from WWII.

I must say I got a little tired from reading over and over again how far away from any help they were and how long they would survive if capsizing. I think it would have been enough to dedicate a single chapter to this, and spend more time instead describing the things that actually happened and that they discovered. I also would have liked to read more about the great kayaking they did rather than coming to the conclusion that they behaved like little boys fighting for prestige and food.

The way the historical facts are woven into the story is well done, and the photos are really great.

It was cold and windy
Some aspects of this book are especially interesting, such as the author's coverage of the history of the Aleutian islands. However, to my surprise, the accounts of kayaking are lacking in detail and failed to impress upon me the drama that the kayakers were no doubt experiencing. Similarly, other day-to-day experiences fall flat, including the so-called tense moments between party members that really never rise to remarkable levels. However, ironically, the first quarter of the book, before the trip is underway, was the most engaging part of the book, in my opinion. It had me ready for even greater dramas that never occurred. I was actually almost skimming the last portions of the book.

Still, this book is rewarding and worth reading but I don't think it will find it's way to anyone's "best-of " list. More interesting adventure/travel reading can be found in Byron Rick's "Homelands" or "A Viking Voyage" by W. Hodding Carter, just to name two.

In spite of being property outfitted, danger was everywhere
Subtitled, "Adventuring in Alaska's Islands of Fire and Ice," this is the account of Jon Bowermaster's modern-day exploration of the four Aleutian Islands in 1999. He's a writer for National Geographic, who sponsored this trip, and he and his three traveling companions were thus able to be properly outfitted with the best outdoor gear and kayaks available for the adventure.

The trip took 25 days in mid-summer, but it sure didn't seem like summer to me. The Aleutian Islands are located in the heart of the Bering Sea, in one of the most dangerous and stormiest waters in the world. But the team Bowermaster put together were all skilled, experienced and strong men. They kayaked from island to island, camped on the beaches and hiked up the volcanic mountains that dominate this small world. They carried their food with them as well as camera equipment as one of the men was an official photographer for National Geographic.

The best part of the book was the well-researched history. I am fascinated by all things about the frozen north and wondered if the Aleutian Islands as depicted by James Michener in "Alaska" was accurate. This book confirmed the accuracy of the fictional book and even added more. There are no people who live on the Aleutian Islands anymore even though they once held a population of more than 25,000. But first the Russians and then the Americans discovered that this was a place to hunt for seal and otter and forced the people to hunt for these pelts. After being isolated for thousands of years, the Aleuts had no natural resistance to disease and many of them died. There was still a small colony in the 1940s but they were all removed from the area because they were being attacked by Japan. Most of these people were sent to internment camps in Alaska and never returned to the Aleuts.

No wonder this place attracted Bowermaster and his National Geographic crew. Of course, in spite of being properly outfitted, there was still danger everywhere, especially since they had no communication with the outside world. And they had to paddle their kayaks for as many as 7 hours without a rest through volatile and dangerous waters. Some of the time I felt I was right with them. The map could have been better, but the photographs were excellent -- definitely National Geographic quality. They captured the beauty and the isolation with a professional's eye.

Because I have a particular interest in Alaska, I did enjoy this book. But the writing reads like a National Geographic piece -- clear, concise and accurate, but lacking in real passion or interesting personal details. The author tried to introduce a small bit of description of some tension in the group, but I had never gotten to know the people enough to really care. I guess I wanted it to be more than what it was -- four modern men dressed in Gore-tex looking for adventure. Therefore, as far as my own personal taste goes, I can only give it a modest recommendation.

Crossing Antarctica
Published in Hardcover by Knopf (January, 1992)
Authors: Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster
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adventure as boredom
This book is an account of the first crossing by foot of Antarctica by veteran adventurer Will Steger and his team. Steger is no adventurer in the British tradition of SCott, instead his crossing his meticulously planned and carried out. Very little out of the ordinary occurs. THe lesson in this book is that most adventure travel is boring, unless disaster strikes! Even a less than enthralling adventure however, would have been made better by a more gifted writer than STeger. His descriptions are stilted and the diary style entries only reinforce the boredom. If you want to know how to plan an expedition, read this book. Other wise there are far better adventure stories out there. Read The Last Place on Earth by Roland HUntford or Endurance by Alfred Lansing.

Adventure? You bet!
Despite what others might say, this book is about an adventure. Doing the unthinkable and something that no one has done before is by it's very nature an adventure. Others may have you believe that unless something catastrophic happens it is not an adventure, but usually bad things happen from lack of proper planning. Don't discount Steger as a true adventurer simply because he is smart! People who have done a fractional amount of the exploration Will Steger has should appreciate this book. However, if your idea of adventure is sliding a little closer to the fire in your stocking feet while you read about some blokes misfortune via improper planning then read another book.

Saving the Earth: A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Action
Published in Paperback by Knopf (01 May, 1990)
Authors: Will Steger, Jan Bowermaster, and Jon Bowermaster
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Well-written, important stuff
I bought and read this book when it was first published around 1990. I haven't looked at it in a few years but it sits on my bookshelf. At first I thought I should go leaf through it before writing this review, but I think my comments from memory will be more valuable. After all, whatever sticks with you several years after reading a book is telling.

The book scared the pants off me, discouraged and depressed me somewhat (not that that's the book's fault -- it's the facts' fault), and made a lasting impression. It presented daunting facts and figures -- how many billions of tons of pollution we emit, how much trash there is that we don't know what to do with, and so on. It also presented things we can all do to help -- from political activism to making better laundry choices. I admit I felt a little hopeless after reading it, because I would look at all the suggestions and all the bad things we're doing and then look up from the book and see people disregarding all of this, polluting wantonly, not bothering to recycle, etc. But once the edge wore off I think the book left me with a higher awareness of the problem -- made it stick in my mind, somewhat and served as a reminder to me.

It's got all the facts and figures for anyone who wants them, and it's written in a simple, concise format, sort of one issue per page, with issues gathered into categories. It's probably just going to preach to the converted, but it does provide a nice dose of inspiration and some handy facts and figures for them.

Governor: An Oral Biography of Robert D. Ray
Published in Hardcover by Iowa State Univ Pr (Trd) (November, 1987)
Author: Jon Bowermaster
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Over the Top of the World
Published in Hardcover by Scholastic (26 January, 1997)
Authors: Will Steger, Jon Bowermaster, Allison Russo, and Gordon Wiltsie
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