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True North: Travels in Arctic Europe Paperback – Illustrated, 15 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited; illustrated edition edition (15 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846970784
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846970788
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 20.1 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,213,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gavin Francis is a writer and physician, author of two books of travel as well as a contributor to Granta, the Guardian, the Times, and the London Review of Books (gavinfrancis.com)

Empire Antarctica - Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins is a new sort of book about the Antarctic, interleaving narratives that explore different aspects of the isolation and austerity, as well as the extraordinary beauty, of the continent. Of it Paul Theroux wrote 'the embodiment of everything I admire in travel writing... I loved this book.'

His first book, True North - Travels in Arctic Europe, explored the history of Europe's expansion northwards into the Arctic, from the first Greek explorers to the Polar expeditions of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Of it Robert Macfarlane wrote 'serious and accomplished... it is set apart by the elegance and grace of its prose, and its abiding interest in landscapes of the mind.'

Product Description

Review

True North is a wonder-voyage - an immrama - out into the landscape of the northern regions, but also into the mindscape of those many travellers who have been drawn irresistibly northwards over the millennia. Fluent, subtle, tough and often beautiful, True North stands alongside Peter Davidson s The Idea of North and Joanna Kavenna s The Ice Museum as a significant recent addition to the Arctic canon --Robert Macfarlane

A deep empathy with the land and its history runs like a golden thread through every chapter of True North --The Spectator

Thank goodness for people like Gavin Francis who are prepared not only to visit our northerly neighbours, but write about them in a way that shows how much of their history is our history too --The Scotsman

Review

A deep empathy with the land and its history runs like a golden thread through every chapter of True North

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Katrina on 3 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Everything you've ever wanted to know about the frozen wastes of the north. From the Faroes Islands to Finland, this book is well written, with a great wealth of excellently researched information. Really loved the early stuff about the first travellers to ever head north, thinking they might fall off the end of the map, just after hanging a right at Iceland. This book certainly gave me a few new holiday alternatives to the mundane norm of the beach. A good read!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By brad on 26 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
After a recent family holiday to Orkney I had an epiphany - I prefer the cool, clean, and fresh air of the North to the hot, dusty, and stifling hot air of the South (and this from a South African!). Being a relative newcomer to the Northern Hemisphere (and travel books generally) I have a lot to discover about local history and legends. I now want to explore further north (Shetland, Faroe, Greenland, Spitzbergen, Norway, Finland) and, in my quest to find out more about what lies above Scotland I came across 'True North' in the local library. It's one of those books that gave me exactly what I needed. The author gives just enough description of the landscape and people he meets to give a sense of what its like up North, and balances this with nicely with an accessible introduction to some parts of the history of the places. Some of the history stuff can be a bit heavy going (goodness knows what the original source material would be like) - but its easy enough to skim read on first reading without losing the thrust of the book - no doubt I'll return to those sections when I'm on the ferry actually going there. So yes, I've now returned the book to the library and bought my own copy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. D. Mogg on 12 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
Some travel writing tells you an awful lot more about the person who's written it than the places that person has been. Those books can be entertaining, depending on whether you like the author's personality or not, but they're not much use if you want to learn anything about the place you had every reason to believe you were going to learn about when you picked up the book.

"True North" is not one of those books. True, you get a fair impression of the writer -- he comes across as an inquisitive, studious, friendly and cheerful sort of chap as he tramps around the arctic, rambling in and out of libraries, bumping into interesting strangers and sleeping in inhospitable landscapes, always in possession of a capacious rucksack that seems stuffed to bursting with esoteric books -- but you get a much fuller feel for the history, culture and geography of the countries that make up that peculiar part of Europe that lies north of all the bits that you might have been to.

Using the stories of people ranging from the 4th century BC Greek explorer Pytheas, through St Brendan and the Vikings, right up to 20th century figures like the Czech playwright, Karel Capek, Francis talks about not only the history of the region, but the role that the idea of "the north" has played in the world's imagination. That might sound like a lot to take on, but Francis's writing style is clear, unfussy and engaging, which makes the book a pleasure to read.

"True North" takes you on an informative journey, in excellent company.
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