By Ben Spier
March 30, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Long Exile

B+
type
  • Book

Nanook of the North, Robert Flaherty’s 1922 movie about a hardy band of Inuit in the frozen Arctic, became a documentary classic. The filmmaker also had an unacknowledged legacy: a mixed-race son by a native. Three decades later, the Canadian government relocated Flaherty’s son and three dozen other Inuit to desolate Ellesmere Island, near the North Pole, purportedly to preserve their old way of life. Their struggle (food shortages reduced them to scrounging in military dumps) makes a gripping read in The Long Exile, even if Melanie McGrath’s poetic prose verges on the overwrought. The Inuits’ epic battle against racism and indifference is nearly cinematic. B+

The Long Exile

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