cover image A Year in Lapland: Guest of the Reindeer Herders

A Year in Lapland: Guest of the Reindeer Herders

Hugh Beach. Smithsonian Books, $24.95 (227pp) ISBN 978-1-56098-230-2

On his first visit to Swedish Lapland, in 1973, Swedish anthropologist Beach stayed 17 months. In subsequent years he returned to take part in every phase of reindeer herding and to observe the effect of modern technology on the herders' wilderness lifestyle. His account of time spent with the Tuorpon Saami (Lapps) in the Jokkmokk District embraces an awesome story of grueling work, adventure and friendship above the Arctic Circle. Beach lived in his own goattieh , a dome-shaped, turf-covered hut with a fireplace in its center. In addition to skis and dogs, the Saami use snowmobiles (``scooters'') and walkie-talkies to gather reindeer. In summer, the main activity is calf-marking; in autumn, dividing the herds. The annual moose hunt precedes slaughter of the bucks. Winter brings the arduous task of driving thousands of reindeer from the mountains to pasture in the southeast forests. Beach gives a memorable portrait of a vanishing way of life. Illustrations not seen by PW. (May)