Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic
In the tradition of Sebastian' Junger's The Perfect Storm and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, Barren Lands is the extraordinary tale of two small-time prospectors who risked their lives to discover $17 billion worth of diamonds in the desolate tundra of the far north.In the late 1970's, two men set out on a twenty-year search for a North American gem mine, along a fabled path that had defied 16th-century explorers, Wild West prospectors, and modern geologists. They are an unlikely pair: Chuck Fipke, a ragged, stuttering fellow with a singular talent for finding sand-size mineral grains, and Stew Blusson, an ultra-tough geologist and helicopter pilot. Inventive, eccentric and ruthless, they follow a trail of geologic clues left by predecessors all the way from backwoods Arkansas up the glaciated high Rockies into the vast and haunted "barren lands" of northern Canada. With a South African geochemist's "secret weapon," Fipke and Blusson outwit rivals, including the immense De Beers carte, and make one of the world's greatest diamond discoveries- setting off a stampede unseen since the Klondike gold rush.A story of obsession and scientific intrigue, Barren Lands is also an elegy to one of earth's last great wild places, a starkly beautiful and mysterious land strewn with pure lakes and alive with wolves and caribou. An endless variety of primeval glacial rock formations hide copper, zinc, and gold, in addition to diamonds. Now that the barrens are "open for business," what will happen to this great wilderness region?Barren Lands is an unforgettable journey for those who, in the words of a nineteenth-century trapper, "want to see that country before it is all gone."