A veteran geologist recounts time spent studying Greenland's remarkable landscape during a series of six expeditions. Glassley's exploration of Greenland's wilderness and the "emotional truths" it contains is profound and moving. This is a rich reading experience for those interested in one of the few remaining truly wild places and how humans relate to it. Glassley's narrative "unfolds in three parts, each part containing a suite of formative sensory experiences that shifted my perceptions." The author's writing skills are such that even those lacking any knowledge about Greenland or the science of geology will be readily transported to one of the world's most exotic locations. Though the titles of the sections—Fractionation, Consolidation, and Emergence—may sound daunting to some general readers, Glassley expertly combines understandable explanations (and a helpful glossary) with a beautiful, lyrical prose. Whether he is writing about the magnitude of the landscape, the silence that permeates each day, mirages, lichen, falcons, gulls, ptarmigan, fish, ice, or tidal currents, his descriptions capture the majesty of the area. Just as captivating are Glassley's detailed explanations of the complex geologic processes that formed this incredible environment. He conveys the significance of shear zones, straight belts, "root" zones, and the feeling of standing in the middle of a molten rock chamber formed 65 million years ago 10 miles below the surface of the Earth. The author's final thoughts regarding the preservation of wilderness are especially poignant within our current turbulent environmental, political, and cultural arenas. "With infinite hubris," he writes, "the modern world is imposing the consequences of its industrial avarice on lifestyles it knows nothing of. The moral bankruptcy of the rationalizations for the destruction of wilderness and the people who live in harmony with it is staggering." A superb tool for a better understanding of the natural world and why real science matters.
"Very few people have spent as much time as William E. Glassley in such deep wilderness. So it would behoove us to pay attention even if he had not brought back such a fascinating, lovely, and useful set of observations. This is a remarkable book." —Bill McKibben
William E. Glassley is a geologist at the University of California, Davis, and an emeritus researcher at Aarhus University, Denmark, focusing on the evolution of continents and the processes that energize them. He is the author of over seventy research articles and a textbook on geothermal energy. A Wilder Time is his first book for a general audience. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.