The first volume of the series focuses on the history of the IPYs (International Polar Years). Achieving the central and original IPY idea, that it requires international coordination and collaboration among many national and institutional partners to realize an improved and renewed understanding of polar regions, has required differing strategies and tactics according to the political, economic, technical and scientific conditions and expectations extant at the time of each IPY. The history recounted here shows clearly the urgency of this IPY, the necessity of including biological and social sciences, and the key role of outreach, features to be well represented by the contents of subsequent volumes and by the series itself.

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