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On February 16, 1845, George Kennan was born in Norwalk, Ohio. Before he turned 20, Kennan was on a ship to the remote Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, on an expedition to establish the world’s first telegraph line from Europe and Asia to North America. That endeavor failed, as an undersea cable was laid beneath the Atlantic Ocean before Kennan’s longer cable could be laid. Kennan’s two years in isolated Kamchatka, however, began his career as a journalist and explorer.
 
Kennan returned to Russia several times, documenting the stark beauty and surprising biodiversity of the Siberian wilderness. He also wrote about the culture and traditions of Siberia’s Arctic peoples, such as the Korak, Chukchi, and Yakut. The last time he visited Russia, Kennan reported on its harsh prison system—and was promptly banned from ever returning to the country.
 
In addition to chronicling life in 19th-century Russia, Kennan also wrote about the modernization of Japan and the devastating explosion of the Mt. Pelee volcano on the Caribbean island of Martinique. In 1888, Kennan was the only journalist among the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society.
Noun

region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

cable
Noun

strong set of cords or wire ropes.

chronicle
Verb

to report.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

devastate
Verb

to destroy.

document
Verb

to keep track of.

endeavor
Noun

large-scale undertaking or attempt.

establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

expedition
Noun

journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

explorer
Noun

person who studies unknown areas.

harsh
Adjective

extreme.

herder
Noun

person who controls and takes responsibility for a group of animals such as sheep, cattle, or horses.

isolate
Verb

to set one thing or organism apart from others.

modernization
Noun

theory that civilizations move from primitive to technologically advanced, and that the advanced civilizations are the wealthiest, most powerful and most democratic.

National Geographic Society
Noun

(1888) organization whose mission is "Inspiring people to care about the planet."

Noun

piece of land jutting into a body of water.

prison
Noun

buildings that house convicted criminals and people accused of a crime and awaiting trial.

prompt
Adjective

on time or quickly.

remote
Adjective

distant or far away.

Siberia
Noun

region of land stretching across Russia from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

stark
Adjective

severe, striking, or clear-cut.

Noun

dry, flat grassland with no trees and a cool climate.

telegraph
Noun

system of communication involving devices connected through electrical wires.

trade route
Noun

path followed by merchants or explorers to exchange goods and services.

tradition
Noun

beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.

Noun

an opening in the Earth's crust, through which lava, ash, and gases erupt, and also the cone built by eruptions.

Noun

environment that has remained essentially undisturbed by human activity.

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