THE LAST WINTER
The Scientists, Adventurers, Journeymen, and Mavericks Trying to Save the World
“The importance of ice was not as clear to me as it should have been. It is now. This is a rousing, literate, multi-continental tour of the cryosphere. Check it out: the end of winter, if we fail to prevent it, will be the end of the world as we know it.”—William Finnegan, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning BARBARIAN DAYS
“Alarming and adventurous . . . If the book were nothing more than a litany of doomsday data points, it would be important reading, though hard to recommend to any save masochists. But Fox is a seriously terrific writer and an utterly madcap reporter, qualities that allow him to leaven the weighty with the whimsical, the threatening with the thrilling.”—Boston Globe
As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has shrunk by a month in most northern latitudes.
In this deeply researched, beautifully written, and adventure-filled book, journalist Porter Fox travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere’s snow line to track the scope of this drastic change, and how it will literally change everything—from rapid sea level rise, to fresh water scarcity for two billion people, to massive greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost, and a half dozen climate tipping points that could very well spell the end of our world.
This original research is animated by four harrowing and illuminating journeys—each grounded by interviews with idiosyncratic, charismatic experts in their respective fields and Fox’s own narrative of growing up on a remote island in Northern Maine.
Timely, atmospheric, and expertly investigated, The Last Winter will showcase a shocking and unexpected casualty of climate change—that may well set off its own unstoppable warming cycle.
“From its gripping opening pages to its haunting conclusion, Porter Fox’s The Last Winter is poised to become a landmark text in climate change literature. Yet this isn’t a dry, doleful book. Instead, it’s filled with often gorgeous prose and fascinating, indelible characters who seem to have gone AWOL from a Paul Theroux or Peter Mathiessen novel. Riveting, unforgettable, and important.”—Tom Bissell, author of CHASING THE SEA and APOSTLE
“As winter vanishes, so do the many cultures forged by glacier, ice floe, and permafrost. Porter Fox has written an imaginative and deeply personal travelogue that reveals how climate change is not only a threat to our future, but a threat to our past.”
—Nathaniel Rich, author of LOSING EARTH and SECOND NATURE
“Before the snowpack vanishes and the glaciers melt away, The Last Winter takes us on a tour of all we are poised to lose—the beauties and elations and wonders, both natural and human, to be found in frigid latitudes and altitudes. Fox is an ideal guide. He writes perceptively and knowledgably but also lovingly about the places and people he encounters along the way. The result is a curiously thrilling joyride that makes you marvel and grieve.” —Donovan Hohn, author of MOBY-DUCK and THE INNER COAST
“In the grand tradition of writers like John McPhee, journalist Porter Fox beautifully transforms the language of the natural sciences into captivating and deeply personal narratives. As a new father, Fox revitalizes the terms of the classic Arctic adventure into an emotional allegory of our planet’s perilous decline. Absolutely necessary reading, not only as a portrait of our fragile planet, but as a guide for salvation.” —Jennifer Percy, author of DEMON CAMP
“Ominous though beautifully written. . . . It’s the kind of book John McPhee would write if he were abroad in wintry places, and we’re fortunate that Fox has taken his place. An essential addition to the library of climate change and one that ought to spur readers to do something about it.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Moving travelogue about snowy places and the people who inhabit them . . . A rollicking adventure story. . . . Much to savor in this exciting yet distressing tale.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border
(Summer 2018, W.W. Norton)
A quest to rediscover America’s other border—the fascinating but little-known northern one.
America’s northern border is the world’s longest international boundary, yet it remains obscure even to Americans. The northern border was America’s primary border for centuries—much of the early history of the United States took place there—and to the tens of millions who live and work near the line, the region even has its own name: the northland.
Travel writer Porter Fox spent three years exploring 4,000 miles of the border between Maine and Washington, traveling by canoe, freighter, car, and foot. In Northland, he blends a deeply reported and beautifully written story of the region’s history with a riveting account of his travels. Setting out from the easternmost point in the mainland United States, Fox follows explorer Samuel de Champlain’s adventures across the Northeast; recounts the rise and fall of the timber, iron, and rail industries; crosses the Great Lakes on a freighter; tracks America’s fur traders through the Boundary Waters; and traces the forty-ninth parallel from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean.
Fox, who grew up the son of a boat-builder in Maine’s northland, packs his narrative with colorful characters (Captain Meriwether Lewis, railroad tycoon James J. Hill, Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota Sioux) and extraordinary landscapes (Glacier National Park, the Northwest Angle, Washington’s North Cascades). He weaves in his encounters with residents, border guards, Indian activists, and militia leaders to give a dynamic portrait of the northland today, wracked by climate change, water wars, oil booms, and border security.
- Forthcoming July 2018
- ISBN 978-0-393-24885-2
- 6.5 × 9.6 in / 272 pages
- Sales Territory: Worldwide
ENDORSEMENTS & REVIEWS
“In this rip-roaring adventure story, Porter Fox illuminates every imaginable facet of the northern border: historical, natural, economic, environmental, geopolitical, and, above everything else, the human.” — Neel Mukherjee, author of A State of Freedom
“Northland is more than a rollicking, acutely reported, and beautifully written account of an epic journey from Maine to Washington across the arc of this country’s magnificent and half-forgotten boreal perimeter. It is also an illuminating, provocative, and poignant glimpse into what America once was—along with a celebration of what remains of that same America along its obscure, dismissed, and unspeakably lovely northern frontier.” — Kevin Fedarko, author of The Emerald Mile
“Northland is a revelation: a gripping east-west journey 3,987 miles along an invisible line. The book is filled with history, irony, adventure, finely drawn characters, and a true sense of place. Fox, a son of the North and a gifted writer, is the perfect guide to this world.” — McKenzie Funk, author of Windfall
“The border between the US and Canada can seem less significant than other boundaries that have shaped America—the southern border with Mexico, the Mason-Dixon line, the frontier—but this wasn’t always so. With a native northlander’s knowledgeable and loving eye, Porter Fox seeks and finds the furtive beauties and forgotten histories of our borderlands to the north.” — Donovan Hohn, author of Moby-Duck
“Porter Fox’s wild trip across the rivers and lakes, prairies and mountains is at turns wondrous, meditative, and scary. In Fox’s patient telling, the northland is less a border than a threshold, a kind of otherworldly membrane wherein people are in conversation with the stream systems and watersheds upon which life depends and that political boundaries work to ignore.” — Robert Sullivan, author of My American Revolution
“A riveting illumination of the northern border’s contentious past, made urgent by the denizens we meet along the pages who are fighting—doggedly, courageously—for the right to course-correct its future.” — Courtney Maum, author of Touch
“DEEP is the must-read story of how global warming is transforming the future of snow and the future of skiing. A powerful call to action for anyone who cares about the future of our planet.” —Former U.S. Vice President and The Climate Reality Project Chairman Al Gore
As featured on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Review, CBS national news, NPR and in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
DEEP is a book about skiers, written and produced by lifelong skiers, with a message that reaches far beyond the slopes we draw inspiration from. It covers a sport that has inspired millions and the mountains and snowfall that make it possible. It is not a tale of the end. It is a beginning – a reminder of how dynamic and fulfilling the skiing life is. And a wake-up call regarding what needs to be done to save it. The narrative follows the unlikely rise of skiing from prehistoric Norwegian hunters to nobility in the Alps in the 1800s to present-day freeriders on the vaunted slopes of the Rocky Mountains. On his global tour of the most celebrated peaks in the Northern Hemisphere, from Washington’s Cascade Range to Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, Fox talks to alpinists about the allure and mysticism of the sport and to scientists about climate change and its effect on snow-ultimately finding a story that is far larger than the impending demise of skiing. For the seven million skiers in America who dedicate their winters to tracking storms and waking up at dawn to catch the first chairlift, the lifestyle change will be radical. It will likely be far worse for the rest of the world. Fox uses primary evidence and interviews, mixed with groundbreaking scientific studies, to explain exactly how and when the Great Melt will play out, the vital importance snow and ice have to Earth’s climate system and the tremendous groundswell that is rising up to fight climate change. DEEP goes on to map a way to mitigate global warming, reduce human impact on our planet and repair the water cycle. As it turns out, the efforts to save snow and ice might end up saving the world.