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Revkin, Andrew C.

Revkin, Andrew C.

PERSONAL:

Married; children: two. Education: Brown University, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Songwriter and guitarist.

ADDRESSES:

Office—New York Times, 229 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

New York Times, New York, NY, environmental writer, 1995—. Discover magazine, senior editor; Science Digest, senior writer; Los Angeles Times, staff writer. Lecturer on writing and the environment; has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, and CNN; adjunct professor, Columbia University, School of Journalism.

AWARDS, HONORS:

American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award; Investigative Reporters and Editors Award; Sidney Hillman Foundation book prize, Robert F. Kennedy book award, and New York Times Notable Books of the Year selection, all for The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest.

WRITINGS:

The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1990.

Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1992.

The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2006.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Burning Season was adapted as an HBO television film.

SIDELIGHTS:

Journalist Andrew C. Revkin specializes in subjects concerning the environment. In his first book, The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest, he recounts the story of Brazilian rubber-tapper Francisco "Chico" Mendes, leader of the Xapuri Rural Workers' Union and outspoken opponent of the wealthy cattle ranchers who were burning down the country's rainforests to make room for ranchland. On December 22, 1988, Mendes was fatally shot as he left his house. Under pressure from outraged environmentalists around the world, Brazilian authorities made two arrests. But many activists believe that a bigger conspiracy involving the Rural Democratic Union (UDR), an association of wealthy ranchers, had been behind the crime.

As Revkin describes it, the Amazonian region of Brazil was a frontier where ranchers thought of themselves as "pioneers who were leading the country toward its new status as a major exporter of food"—in this case, beef. For these ranchers, then, the rubber tappers who used the forest resources were "an inconvenience that had to be removed from the land along with the weeds and trees." Revkin describes ranchers trying to buy out the tappers, or resorting to cheating, harassment, threats, and even murder.

Susan Reed, writing in People, hailed The Burning Season as an "impressively thorough account of Chico's life—and his role in trying to preserve the Amazonian ecosystem and its estimated fifteen million plant and animal species." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly deemed the book a "richly detailed account" of the Mendes case. The book, which took Revkin five years to complete, was made into an HBO film starring Raul Julia. The Burning Season won the Sidney Hillman Foundation book prize and the Robert F. Kennedy book award, and was also named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Revkin focuses on a very different ecosystem to the tropical rainforest in The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World. Written for young readers, the book describes Revkin's experience visiting the North Pole with a team of researchers. Though weather conditions at the North Pole are not as extreme as those in Antarctica, it is in many ways more difficult to perform research there because, unlike Antarctica, there is no land mass at the North Pole. Researchers must set up on sea ice, which is only eight feet thick. Not only does the ice drift, but it can also crack and split, dumping buildings and equipment into the water. "Revkin is at ease in this floating world, his descriptive gifts well suited to its strange beauties," observed Regina Marler in her New York Times Book Review assessment of The North Pole Was Here. Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson also appreciated the book's striking details, such as Revkin's explanation that he writes with pencils because ink freezes at the Pole, and that he has to use pocket warmers to protect his laptop battery from the cold.

Revkin also incorporates the history of Arctic explorations into his narrative, musing on the situation of various adventurers who might have found themselves stranded on drifting ice or without provisions. He discusses scientific study of the Arctic, explaining in detail the international project that extracted core samples from the ocean floor in 2004 and thus produced "a record descending more than 1,000 feet down through the sea floor and fifty-seven million years back in time," according to Marler in the New York Times Book Review.

Reviewing the book in Kliatt, Raymond Puffer observed: "Everything [Revkin] saw was new and exciting to him, from the brightness of the polar sun to the primitive sanitary arrangements, and he describes his experiences with a reporter's exactness." School Library Journal contributor Jodi Kearns expressed similar enthusiasm, describing The North Pole Was Here as a "wonderfully written narrative" that is "certain to fascinate" its audience.

In an interview with Audubon writer Keith Kloor, Revkin explained that the Arctic is an especially rich source of information about global warming because the region has experienced tremendous change in recent years, including the reduction of sea ice. One of his main reasons for writing The North Pole Was Here, he went on, was to "help find a way to look at global warming with our children at our side, exploring it as a multigenerational issue. Right now, in our indulgent fossil fuel habits, we're doing things that could very well limit our children's world, that are very unpleasant to think about."

Revkin also wrote Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, a companion book to the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit on climate change. According to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, the book presents "authoritative information on a timely ecological subject."

Weatherwise contributor David Laskin praised Revkin's journalism for its consistent excellence, noting that Revkin refuses to oversimplify stories to make them more easily digestible to mass audiences. "Journalism relies on the black and white," Laskin quoted Revkin as saying, "but with climate change, clarity is the first thing that goes away. No one wants to hear that—not newspaper editors, not the public, not politicians."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Revkin, Andrew C., The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1990.

Revkin, Andrew C., Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Revkin, Andrew C., The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2006.

PERIODICALS

American Forests, November 1, 1990, review of The Burning Season, p. 11.

Audubon, July 1, 1992, review of Global Warming, p. 119; May-June, 2006, Keith Kloor, "The Hottest News Beat," p. 14.

Booklinks, March 1, 2008, J. William Hug, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 53.

Booklist, May 1, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 79.

Book Report, November 1, 1992, Kate Clarke, review of Global Warming, p. 52.

Bookseller, October 13, 2006, "Children's Eco-book Provokes US Senator Fury," p. 8.

Commonweal, November 9, 1990, Joseph A. Page, review of The Burning Season, p. 660.

E, May 1, 2006, "Perils at the Pole," p. 59.

Ecologist, February 1, 2005, Alex Humes, review of The Burning Season, p. 65.

Geographical Journal, November 1, 1991, review of The Burning Season, p. 336.

Geotimes, December 1, 2006, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 64.

Kliatt, March 1, 2008, Raymond Puffer, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 39.

Library Journal, October 1, 1991, Michael J. DuCharme, review of The Burning Season, p. 160; July 1, 1992, Linn Prentis, review of Global Warming, p. 117.

Nature, August 30, 1990, Alun Anderson, review of The Burning Season, p. 805.

New England Journal of Medicine, March 28, 1991, Ellen K. Silbergeld, review of The Burning Season, p. 930.

New Scientist, September 15, 1990, Jonathan Beard, review of The Burning Season, p. 61.

New Statesman & Society, August 24, 1990, Joy Melville, review of The Burning Season, p. 36.

Newsweek, September 3, 1990, review of The Burning Season, p. 62.

New York Review of Books, March 28, 1991, review of The Burning Season, p. 39.

New York Times, August 14, 1990, Roger Cohen, review of The Burning Season, p. 15.

New York Times Book Review, August 19, 1990, James Brooke, review of The Burning Season, p. 7; October 23, 1994, review of The Burning Season, p. 36; May 14, 2006, Regina Marler, "You Are There."

OnEarth, June 22, 2006, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 41.

People, August 27, 1990, Susan Reed, review of The Burning Season, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, May 11, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Burning Season, p. 244; April 6, 1992, review of Global Warming, p. 45.

Reference Services Review, January 1, 1993, review of The Burning Season, p. 24.

School Library Journal, October 1, 1990, Roberta Lisker, review of The Burning Season, p. 154; June 1, 2006, Jodi Kearns, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 184; October 1, 2006, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 52; January 1, 2008, Barbara Wysocki, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 57.

Science Books & Films, July 1, 2006, Ellis L. Yochelson, review of The North Pole Was Here, p. 176.

Smithsonian, February 1, 1991, Stanley Meisler, review of The Burning Season, p. 151.

Time for Kids, April 21, 2006, "TFK Q&A," p. 8.

Times Literary Supplement, January 11, 1991, Jan Rocha, review of The Burning Season, p. 7.

Tribune Books, September 23, 1990, review of The Burning Season, p. 6.

Wall Street Journal, July 12, 1990, Warren Dan, review of The Burning Season, p. 9.

Weatherwise, July 1, 2006, David Laskin, "The Climate Beat: The New York Times' Andrew Revkin Pursues the Truth behind Global Warming."

ONLINE

NASA Web site,http://ct.gsfc.nasa.gov/ (April 17, 2008), author profile.

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