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Heart of the Hero: The Remarkable Women Who Inspired the Great Polar Explorers [Kindle Edition]

Kari Herbert
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Fascinating and hugely enjoyable' –Sir Ranulph Fiennes. 'Heart of the Hero' gives a compelling insight into the lives of some of the world’s most famous explorers, through the eyes of the women who inspired them to achieve great things. Author Kari Herbert explores the unpredictable, often heartbreaking stories of seven remarkable women who were indispensable companions, intrepid travellers and sometimes even the driving force behind our best-loved polar heroes, including Scott and Shackleton. Drawing on her own unique experience as the daughter of a pioneering polar explorer, and using extracts from previously unpublished historic journals and letters, Herbert blends deeply personal accounts of longing, betrayal and hope with tales of peril and adventure.

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'[This] is a tale only the daughter of an Arctic explorer could tell. She characterizes the relationships between the explorers and their wives with a deft pen and crisp, swift prose that cuts through time and struggle as surely as a sled runner. The vibrancy and individuality of these resilient women shines through on the page, as their husbands fight the elements and struggle for fame, while the wives explore their own crucial role in their husbands superstar-like lives. The Victorian and Edwardian ages of polar exploration have never been matched for the interest of the public in the investigations of the wild, frigid polar worlds. [Heart of the Hero] captures this mania and the remarkable women behind these remarkable and outrageous explorers. Wives, mothers, publicists, defenders, financiers, and fellow adventurers, this gem of a book engages an audience as thoroughly as the expeditions did in their heyday, telling the stories of women like Emily Shackleton, Jane Franklin, Jo Perry, Eva Nansen, and Marie Herbert with a grace and style as captivating as the northern landscape itself.' --Portland Book Review

As the daughter of the polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert, Kari Herbert first saw the Arctic in 1971 as a babe in arms. Her mother, Marie, is included in the polar wives club along with the likes of Kathleen Scott and Emily Shackleton: women who were crucial to the exploits that made heroes of their husbands. Herbert portrays seven wives not only as loyal, loving, resilient, inspirational and practical women but also as moral heroines and capable achievers in the arts and adventure in their own right. --Iain Finlayson, The Times

The heroic age of polar exploration was also the age of the Angel in the House . Jo Peary (wife of Robert E) may have decided that a woman's place was at the Pole, but by and large her peers preferred to keep the home fires burning. So, at least, it seemed. Only Eleanor Franklin actually measured up: a poet, wasting away with tuberculosis in the approved romantic style, she sent her husband John off to the Arctic from her deathbed. Most polar wives were less self-sacrificing, strong as they were in their support for their husbands. Singer Eva Nansen grew heartily sick of being patronised at receptions so boring you could weep tears of blood . But it had taken courage to do what she had done. Kari Herbert (daughter of Marie and Wally) knows what she s talking about in a wonderfully diverting and often inspiring book. --The Scotsman

As the daughter of Sir Wally Herbert, Kari understands the inner workings of polar exploration better than most. She explores these stories with empathy, insight and skill. In doing so, she manages to reveal the qualities of the men and women who live life at the extreme. Kari's writing shows an extraordinary depth of thinking as she explores the lives of these largely forgotten women ... A fascinating and hugely enjoyable book which makes a valuable contribution to polar literature. --Sir Ranulph Fiennes

About the Author

Kari Herbert is the author of the bestselling, multi-translated memoir The Explorer's Daughter, an account of her early life in a remote Inuit community in Greenland with her mother and father, the renowned explorer Sir Wally Herbert. The founding director of Polarworld and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, she is a seasoned traveller, a popular public speaker and an accomplished photographer. She has appeared widely on radio and television and her work has been published in the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, the Independent and the Guardian, as well as many international publications. She lives in Cornwall with her husband, polar historian Huw Lewis-Jones, and their daughter.

Product details

More About the Author

Kari Herbert first started travelling at the age of ten months when her father, pioneering explorer Sir Wally Herbert, took Kari and her mother to live among the Polar Inuit on a remote island off the coast of Greenland.

As an author and photographer, her work has been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world, including the Sunday Times, the Independent, and the Guardian. Her first book, 'The Explorer's Daughter' was chosen as Book of the Week by BBC Radio 4. It has since been translated into Danish, Dutch, Italian, and Polish.

Her most recent books include 'In Search of the South Pole' and 'Polar Wives'. Kari is the founding director of Polarworld, an indie publishing company. She lives in Cornwall, England.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart of the Hero by Kari Herbert 19 Feb. 2013
By Remus
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kari Herbert has brought a new subject to the table. We have heard for so long about the great explorers but little of that extra, essential, member of the team. I have always had an interest in the great explorers so this was going to be intriguing. Through her clever use of letters and journals she has woven a beautifully spun tale of desperate longing, utter pathos and extreme privation. These women were absolute equals to their partners. They were often a lot more interesting as they were less self-obsessed and prepared to take on the same challenges without the physical strength or experience. Kari tells their stories brilliantly, with a fine turn of phrase. She is not sentimental about them yet she allows their lives to come finally to life. It really is a tour de force and an incredibly important contribution for those who want to truly understand the subject of exploration as whole and what enabled our heroes to tackle such endeavours. It is well structured in that we don't follow one after another biographically or chronologically. Instead, each episode is dealt with separately so you don't get bogged down with one figure for too long. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget WAGs, the PEWs are far more exciting 20 May 2013
By AliB
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This brilliantly written book follows the lives of five wives of polar explorers (PEWs). For anyone with an interest in polar exploration this is a great addition to the vast amount of literature written on the subject. All these women are fascinating characters in their own right, free spirited, creative, energetic and all during a time when women were meant to sit at home. Nothing is exaggerated or dramatised, Kari Herbert tells the story as it is, quoting extensively from letters. And what a different world it was - months or even years between letters and perhaps because communication wasn't instant they wrote beautifully, at length and from the heart. Kari says she was advised by her mother to write truthfully but kindly and she has. The characters, both men and women were flawed, but aren't we all? Kari writes fairly and factually and I found this a riveting read and a book that will go on my shelf to be reread on a snowy day.
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This is a brilliant read, describing the lives of the little known women behind the great polar adventures. Each has her own fascinating story - none were dull characters, and many had adventures in their own right as they played press officer and publicist to keep these expeditions in the public eye, while also keeping the home fires burning and the incomes coming in! Thoroughly recommended - indeed I have bought it as presents for several friends who have also been inspired by it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A study of femine tolerance 8 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having attended a lecture in Southampton by the authoress, I had to obtain a copy of her book for my polar library to go with the other excellent books that she has written. There could not be a more informed authoress on this Polar subject, having been brought up with the Inuiit in Greenland by her Father, Sir Wally Herbert, and Mother, who epitomised feminine tolerance during her Father's long absences on his extraordinary expeditions.
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