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November 18, 1990|Charles Solomon

HUNTERS OF THE GREAT NORTH by Vilhjalmur Stefansson (Paragon House: $12.95, illustrated) . Although his name no longer commands widespread recognition, Stefansson was a well-known writer/Arctic explorer during the early part of the century. "Hunters" chronicles his wanderings through Alaska and northern Canada between 1906 and 1915. Although he eschews the hairy-chested braggadocio of the old men's magazines, Stefansson's tales of hunting, trapping and whaling seem curiously dated: Killing animals--especially whales--no longer is considered a measure of masculinity or physical prowess. He obviously respected the native people of the Arctic for their survival skills, but his efforts to learn such traditional crafts as igloo-building retain the mildly patronizing attitude of a great white hunter "going native."

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