The Last Speaker of Bear
My Encounters in the NorthFour decades of expeditions in the north from Canada to Siberia
The Last Speaker of Bear is the patchwork story of a life spent traveling in the north from Alaska to Siberia. Lawrence Millman first visited northern Canada as a child and has spent four decades since on some thirty-five expeditions in search of undeveloped landscapes and traditional cultures, ...
- Published: October 2022
- Published: October 2022
The Last Speaker of Bear is the patchwork story of a life spent traveling in the north from Alaska to Siberia. Lawrence Millman first visited northern Canada as a child and has spent four decades since on some thirty-five expeditions in search of undeveloped landscapes and traditional cultures, not to mention untamed wildlife. While much of his experience is centered in Canada—including territories from Yukon to Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador—he includes stories from villages in Greenland, Iceland, and Norway as well.
Early on, Millman developed a reverence for the wisdom of indigenous and native communities with histories spanning centuries: Inuit, Inuk, Innu, Alutiiq, Cree, and others. Whether dining on mushrooms, fungus, tobacco leaves, or unusual foods that would have made even Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain turn up their noses, or exploring northern tundras, rugged mountains, or remote islands, he paints a picture of people often living in tenuous conditions but rooted in a faith that their worlds will provide for them. Relationships with bears, caribou, reindeer, walruses, seals, whales, and abundant avian life serve spiritual, companionship, and sustenance purposes. Traditions grounded in family and community rituals thrive, as do lost languages, natural medicine, and time-honored ways to survive difficult circumstances..
In this collection of vignettes, Millman reminds us of the potency of endangered knowledge as well as the importance of paying close attention to the natural world. He opens our eyes to a life in remote places thousands of miles from the fast-paced, urban world so many of us inhabit.
“Lawrence Millman is that rare traveler — a person with guts and a sense of humor.” — Paul Theroux
Praise for The Last Speaker of Bear
"Though many of the essays are amusing, such as his run-in with 'Viking' marauders on a remote Icelandic island, climate change and its deleterious effects on landscapes, wildlife, and livelihoods are a common theme of his observations, and his anticipatory mourning for an Arctic close to vanishing forever serves as a potent reminder of the present reality." — Library Journal
“Lovers of Arctic lands and wanderlust will enjoy these armchair adventures imbued with Millman’s strengths of heart, mind, and humor.” — Booklist
“Captivating. A wonderful read.” — Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds
"I can't think of a better guide to the frozen north - its people and its culture and its plants and animals - than Larry Millman" — Paul Theroux
“Whether delicately clearing his throat in a remote turf hut or sampling urumiit dropped from the wrong end of a ptarmigan, there is only one traveler in the past half century who has consistently revealed True North. If only we had been fortunate enough to have Larry Millman as our first visitor to the far northern edge of the world, before Western Civilization belched a parade of discoverers, explorers, and exploiters who canceled its cultures and cooked its climate.” — PJ Capelotti, author of The Greatest Show in the Arctic
"When you want to know the essence of a place, you go have a look. You look for a long time. You go home, think about what you’ve seen, hit the library, return to that place, learn about its plants, animals, geology, climatology, peoples. You ask questions of elders who have long been on the land, throw out half of what you think you know, start all over. Lawrence Millman has done all these things, an education that underlies this wise, spry account of a lifetime’s travels in northerly places. No matter what your own home ground, you’ll learn much from Millman’s extraordinary book." — Gregory McNamee, author of Aelian's On the Nature of Animals
"Everything Lawrence Millman writes is original, most of it is funny and far more of it than we deserve is profound and true. This is a necessary book for a broken time. You should read it." — Paul Kingsnorth, author of Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays
"Millman is a one-of-a-kind adventurer and storyteller. His keen observations and beautiful writing transport readers to the ends of the earth with a unique combination of illuminating insight, wit and humor. This fantastic book is full of stories that only Millman could tell.” — Jonathan Reisman MD, author of The Unseen Body
Praise for Lost in the Artic
"Again and again, Millman extends a generous invitation for the reader to experience schadenfreude at his expense." — The New York Times
"He has a gonzo intrepidness ... Millman is rightfully beloved by travel writers." — Boston Globe
"Millman is a modern-day Rousseau." — The Washington Post Book World
"Wild, offbeat adventure ... with viscera and wit. For the armchair explorer, this is a ticket to the bizarre and quirky." — Morning News
Praise for An Evening Among Headhunters
"Millman finds wonder and beauty and humor in all of it... His knowledge of flora, fauna, history and culture is impressive, as is his rapport with the locals, wherever he is...Millman is a fine storyteller, just the sort of fellow you'd want to travel with, even if your ideal vacation doesn't include a drafty tent somewhere above the Arctic Circle and a succulent serving of seal eye (raw, natch)." — Publishers Weekly
"Millman writes with rare wit and humor...conveys this enthusiasm and even makes dining on boiled walrus in an igloo in the freezing cold seem fun. Highly recommended for all travel collections." — Library Journal
Praise for Last Places
"Readers who are captivated either by offbeat adventure or by the Far North need look no further...he captures the beauty and fragility of an austere landscape." — Publishers Weekly
"Millman's acerbic wit makes the book extremely entertaining. He imparts his love and respect for the primitive radiance of the landscape and the hardy character of the region's often eccentric residents." — Library Journal