Bathsheba
Environmental Historian
Writer & Educator
Travels from: Providence, RI

“A superb book, essential reading for students of the once-and-future Arctic.” — Kirkus Starred Review

Bathsheba Demuth is writer and environmental historian specializing in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her interest in northern places and cultures began when she was 18 and moved to the village of Old Crow in the Yukon, where she trained huskies for several years. From the archive to the dog sled, she is interested in how the histories of people, ideas, and ecologies intersect. In addition to her prize-winning book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait, her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker and The Best American Science and Nature Writing. She is currently the Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University.

Floating Coast, a Best Book of the Year as chosen by Nature, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal, is a groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between capitalism, communism, and Arctic ecology since the dawn of the industrial age. Drawing on her own experience living with and interviewing indigenous people in the region, as well as from archival sources, Demuth shows how the social, the political, and the environmental clashed in this liminal space. Through the lens of the natural world, she views human life and economics as fundamentally about cycles of energy, bringing a fresh and visionary spin to the writing of human history.

The book is a profoundly resonant tale of the dynamic changes and unforeseen consequences that immense human needs and ambitions have brought, and will continue to bring, to a finite planet.

Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

W.W. Norton & Company |
Nonfiction

A Best Book of the Year as chosen by Nature, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal.

A groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between capitalism, communism, and Arctic ecology since the dawn of the industrial age.

Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through the stories of these animals and resources, Bathsheba Demuth reveals how people have turned ecological wealth in a remote region into economic growth and state power for more than 150 years.

The first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters stretching from Russia to Canada, Floating Coast breaks away from familiar narratives to provide a fresh and fascinating perspective on an overlooked landscape. The unforgiving territory along the Bering Strait had long been home to humans—the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia—before Americans and Europeans arrived with revolutionary ideas for progress. Rapidly, these frigid lands and waters became the site of an ongoing experiment: How, under conditions of extreme scarcity, would the great modern ideologies of capitalism and communism control and manage the resources they craved?

Drawing on her own experience living with and interviewing indigenous people in the region, as well as from archival sources, Demuth shows how the social, the political, and the environmental clashed in this liminal space. Through the lens of the natural world, she views human life and economics as fundamentally about cycles of energy, bringing a fresh and visionary spin to the writing of human history.

Floating Coast is a profoundly resonant tale of the dynamic changes and unforeseen consequences that immense human needs and ambitions have brought, and will continue to bring, to a finite planet.

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Author Talks

Bathsheba speaks regularly to university and general audiences about the Russian and American Arctic, what whales teach us about ethics, and the personal & historical lessons that come from working with sled dogs.

She also supports authors & academics interested in communicating their work to a range of publics through the Environmental Storytelling Studio at Brown University.

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Do Whales Judge Us? Interspecies History and Ethics

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Giving a Dam: Beavers, Law, and Making the Yukon River

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The Reindeer and the End of the World: Apocalypse, Climate, and Soviet Dreams

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Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World: A Tribute to Barry Lopez

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Of Ecologies & Possibilities: The Dawn of Everything as seen from the Yukon River,

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History from a Dogsled: The Yukon and the Stakes of Telling the Past,

Bathsheba’s Research

Bathsheba’s Writing and Press

Bathsheba’s Events & Public Talks

Bathsheba’s Curriculum Vitae

Honors, Awards & Recognition

A Nature Top Ten Book of 2019
An NPR, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Kirkus Review Best Book of 2019
A New York Times Editor’s Choice pick
Winner of the 2021 John H. Dunning Prize
Winner of the 2020 George Perkins Marsh Prize
Winner of the 2020 Hal K. Rothman Book Prize
Winner of the 2020 Eric Zencey Prize
Winner of the 2020 W. Turrentine Jackson Award
Winner of the 2020 William Mills Prize
Winner of the 2020 Alaskana Award
Winner of the 2019 Julia Ward Howe Nonfiction Prize
Finalist for the 2020 Pushkin House Prize
Longlisted for the 2020 Cundill History Prize
Honorable Mention, 2020 Rachel Carson Book Prize

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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