Laycock's personable introduction to the Arctic includes a history of its discoverers and explorers, a profile of the Eskimo, ancient and contemporary, a brief survey of the animals who Live there, and an overview of Alaska today. Entire books are of course available on each of these subjects and Laycock tells far less, for example, about Eskimo life today than does Carolyn Meyer in last year's Eskimos. But his chapters on the seagoing explorers of the North convey more sense of adventure than does Orlob's recent Northeast Passage (p. 52, J-18); his report on the new Alaska pipeline is more environmentally aware than is Coombs' more extensive treatment (above); and above all Laycock's book is enlivened by his own enthusiasm and experiences. Sometimes the personal touch is a mere device (""Walking across the tundra, I think of the grizzly bear,"" opens his rundown on that animal), but he makes real contact with his first-hand accounts: of a midnight encounter with rows of ""watching"" inukshuks, of his enjoyment of tea with an Eskimo family in their old-fashioned igloo (soon afterwards replaced by a modern house), of his visit with a Canadian judge whose office is filled with Eskimo carvings done for him as mementos of the cases he's heard on his Northwest Territories circuit. Even Laycock's discuission of Alaskan oil has room for the folktale he'd been told about its origin. Laycock ends with advice on what to take on an Alaskan vacation, and those attracted by the prospect will find here a glimmer of the romance of the North.