About the Book

Winner of the 2014 Prix du Style "Masterful . . . An eloquent addition to a violent episode in the history of science in the twentieth century." -- Nature In 1934, the highly respected head of the Soviet Union's meteorology department, Alexei Feodosievich Wangenheim, was suddenly arrested without cause and sentenced to a gulag. Less than a year after being hailed by Stalin as a national hero, he ended up with thousands of other "political prisoners" in a camp on Solovetsky Island, under vast northern skies and surrounded by water that was, for more than six months of the year, a sheet of motionless ice. He was violently executed in 1937 -- a fact kept from his family for nearly twenty years. Olivier Rolin masterfully weaves together Alexei's story and his eventual fate, drawing on an archive of letters and delicate drawings of the natural world that Wangenheim sent to his family from prison.



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