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Forgotten Footprints: Lost stories in the discovery of Antarctica Paperback – 1 Mar 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Parthian Books (1 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908946466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908946461
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 14 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 701,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I came to travel writing by a long route. I tried poetry and fiction first, because while I admired, and enjoyed reading, travel books, it had always seemed such a massive task to set yourself up as an expert on a foreign place, its history, not to mention learning languages, funding trips and avoiding death and disease wherever convenient.
I found it hard to get into writing my first book, about a Patagonian journey, because I hid in the research, which is what most first-timers do. It's less scary to recycle than to put yourself in the front line. Of course the prose was dead on the page. Then I wrote the piece now near the front of Where the Earth Ends, about a very large lady and her very thin sister coming into a restaurant and reading the menu, as if it were pornography. Then they left without ordering. Without thinking I had switched on my fiction skills and the prose was kicking.
I have now turned on its head the daunting amount of research needed to write a quality account, and pick topics I always wished I had had an excuse to study at leisure, such as the Incas, in Cloud Road, then the unknown ordinary men who first found Antarctica, in Forgotten Footprints. Next, later in the year, I am off to Mexico following Cortes's route when he marched from the Caribbean coast to Mexico City, then the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. By the time I leave you may ask me any question you wish about human sacrifice, Spanish horses, or extracting alcohol from maguey cacti, a priceless field skill.

Product Description

Review

"[Harrison's] approach is thorough and his excitement contagious." --Independent on Sunday

"Forgotten Footprints has thematic focus, form and feeling... [It] is a [...] work that has bravery to it." --Theatre Wales

About the Author

John Harrison comes from a line of aviators and seafarers, and studied geography at Cambridge. Cloud Road, an account of his journey across the Inca Heartland, won the Wales' Book of the Year Award 2011. His short stories are widely published and he reviews for a variety of publications from the New Welsh Review, and Planet to The Daily Telegraph, as well as critiquing manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy. John will be appearing across the UK in a multi-media spoken word tour in 2012. Further details can be found at www.forgottenfootprints.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By LittleTiger on 27 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Antarctica - the last unknown wilderness. And yet it's been better-explored over the centuries than any of us probably knew. In fact, there is so much history to this vast continent that one of the main challenges to John Harrison must have been to condense it into just over 400 pages. This he does in the skilful crafting of "bite-sized" chunks; between and even during the chapters of all the explorers, both well- and little-known, the author adds all sorts of interesting insights about penguins, research, territorial disputes and agreements, meteorological gems and all sort of other topics. I didn't know, for instance, that there were even as many as two forms of flora on the continent in these modern times (the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana shows evidence of abundant plant life millions of years ago.

Sometimes a book combining so many different specialities (geology, geography, biology, history, etc.) can be mind-bogglingly tedious. The author avoids such pitfalls. His style of writing is, as my title suggests, highly absorbing. He never talks down to his readership, a high number of whom may never have had the privilege of visiting "The White Continent", but nor does he blind the lay person with science. The history is juxtaposed with little personal comments of his time down in Antarctica, and having crossed The Drake Passage 80 times, his 40 journeys have clearly given him a wealth of experience which he willingly and generously shares with the reader. It is a continent which intrigues mankind with its mystery and whilst there will be always questions of what, where, why, how, which will continue to lure people to explore further, John Harrison makes a fine job of teasing apart some of that mystery in this compelling book.

Have you been? Are you now planning to go? This is a book for everyone. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By El Tophero on 12 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific book about antartica. It is an essential buy for anyone thinking of visiting the place and yes people do visit, thousands of them apparently. If, like me, you don't go for frozen holidays, you can be enthralled from the comfort of your living room at the men, and ocassionally women, who are brave enough and crazy enough to go to one of the most inhospitable places on earth. I have read quite a few books about antartica, including this author's other book;'Where the Earth Ends' but this is the first book to seriously question who actually discovered the earth's last continent, who first set foot on it. The answer is a merchant Captain from Britain no one has ever heard of. The likes of Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen and Cook are all household names but the real discoverer of the antartic, as detailed here, died unknown and in penury in London's East End. Surely such a man deserves better than that?
Harrison's book is a vertual compendium of antartica both modern and historical. The writing is engaging and has a lively wit. To anyone remotely interested in the antartic and its history, this book is a must have.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bunty on 16 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
Whether you have been to Antarctica or are thinking of going, you mustn't miss this book. I really enjoyed the stories of John's personal trips down there and the book is quirky, fascinating, full of facts 1 didn't know about the clever, brave and often mad people who charted, explored and actually discovered it. Great read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TRISTAN on 10 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I don't often review books on Amazon but I felt compelled to do so here. I'm fascinated by Antarctica so a friend recommended this as a must-read. I paid full prize for it on Amazon. I wasn't disappointed.

John Harrison has written a lucid page turner which will chill even the most coddled of armchair readers to the bone. It's the next best thing to being on the continent oneself. I read somewhere that Mr Harrison has travelled to the deep south 40 or so times. It shows. His own reminisces flow beautifully into the explorers tales of which he so crisply writes about. Ah, what a book.

The best thing though... Shackleton's adventures are great. Scott's told in all its honesty. Amundsen's trip is given due service, all gripping stuff, and illuminating given the context of the period, environment and personalities. But it's the unsung, undiscovered heroes of the wilderness - few of which I'd ever heard off - who's stories are even more compelling.

Amazon sent me a link to Mr Harrison's other book, Where the Earth Ends, about Patagonia when I finished this on my Kindle. Yep, I brought that one too. Forgotten Footprints. Not any more they're not.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By scotlandinaweek on 7 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The five star rating for this book is based simply on the way epic tales are re-told. Harrison knows his way round these hostile lands at the end of the planet, so has a clear vision of what these explorers and 'exploiters' faced in times gone by. And he brings this to life very vividly. But it's a book to be read while in bed with the electric blanket set on high. Recommended without reservation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Music Lover on 26 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read many books on Antarctica over the years,including the great" Worst Journey in The World" I was not expecting much from this book,and was delighted by it.
It tells the story of people most of us will never have heard of,stories of adventure and endurance which make great
reading for those interesed in the White South.
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