I May Be Some Time is a richly engrossing cultural history of our obsession with ice, Eskimos and polar exploration.
When Captain Scott died in 1912 on his way back from the South Pole, his story became a myth embedded in the national imagination. Despite wars and social change, despite recent debunking, it is still there. Everyone remembers the doomed explorers' last words - 'I'm just going outside, and I may be some time' - and history is what you can remember.
Conventional histories of polar exploration trace the laborious expeditions across the map, dwelling on the proper techniques of ice-navigation and sledge-travel. But we rarely ask what the explorers thought they were doing, or why they did these insane things.
I May Be Some Time is about the poles as they have been perceived, dreamed, even desired. It explores the myth as myth, showing how Scott's death was the culmination to a long-running national enchantment with perilous journeys to the ends of the earth.
'The thrills of desolation, of icy beauty, of challenge, of human courage, of comradeship . . . I May Be Some Time is a truly majestic work of scholarship, thought and literary imagination.' Jan Morris, The Times