Books: By Northern Lights

THE WHITE DAWN, AN ESKIMO SAGA by James Houston. 275 pages. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $6.95.

Waist-deep in a pile of their own empties, 20th century technological men keep casting wistful second glances at "barbaric" societies that have lived harmoniously and respectfully with the earth. James Houston's particular over-the-shoulder look picks out an imagined Eskimo community at the moment of its intersection with Western life. A painter who spent twelve years in the Canadian Arctic, Houston was intrigued by an oldtimer's yarn of a lost whaleboat crew found wandering on the ice floes by...

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