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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide to two worlds: inner as well as outer
Sara Wheeler got a first glimpse of Antarctica when she completed her north-to-south journey through Chile ["Travels In A Thin Country"] by visiting the Chilean base on the Antarctic peninsula. She wrote the title of this book on a new notebook as she flew north again from the Chilean base. It took her two years to arrange to return. For the reader, this account of her...
Published on 18 Aug 2007 by C. Nation

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea.
Sarah Wheeler's 'Terra Incognita' is the account of the writer's relatively recent travels in Antarctica.

I decided to read the book because I was so impressed by Ms wheeler's biography 'Cherry' - an account of the life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard. (see my review) However, I have to say I was rather disappointed with this book which was written in a quite...
Published 21 months ago by John Brain


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide to two worlds: inner as well as outer, 18 Aug 2007
By 
C. Nation "chrisnation" (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
Sara Wheeler got a first glimpse of Antarctica when she completed her north-to-south journey through Chile ["Travels In A Thin Country"] by visiting the Chilean base on the Antarctic peninsula. She wrote the title of this book on a new notebook as she flew north again from the Chilean base. It took her two years to arrange to return. For the reader, this account of her adventure was worth every minute and all the effort.

The result is enormously interesting and entertaining. Her writing is a pleasure to read, whether dealing with historical background material, describing childish horse-play and lavatorial school-boy pranks [mostly perpetrated by the British, sadly], rhapsodising over the Antarctic landscape or reflecting on her own inner landscape of fear, depression and faith.

Her style is succinct and humorous when describing life in the bases and in the field, and close to elegiac when treating with the landscape and her own thoughts and feelings about it all. It's clear that Antarctica is spectacular in the extreme. Sara Wheeler has described it without becoming carried away or over-blown but has nevertheless given us a picture lacking nothing in colour, detail and texture.

There is a large library of books on Antarctic exploration. I have quite a number myself, including "South With Scott" by Teddy Evans, signed by the author. Sara Wheeler's book is eminently worthy of taking its place amongst those of Evans, Wilson, Shackleton and Cherry Garrard.

Sara Wheeler is not an explorer or a scientist or an obsessive. She has not written a book describing the events in the moments of the creation of a myth or the miseries endured whilst accomplishing some heroic but essentially meaningless quest [what she refers to as the how-dead-can-you-get tendency]. She has given us a book by an engaging, percipient, thoughtful lay person who describes, for those of us who are entranced but will never go there, what Antarctica is like.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jewel-like clarity and detail. Incredible., 8 Jan 2003
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
Extraordinary. Made me laugh and cry at once. Deadpan British humour and intriguing detail coexists along soaringly touching, even mystical, reverie. There is nothing sentimental about Wheeler's love for the Antarctic. This is a real journey told with incredible candour. It's a privilege to have read it.
One of Wheeler's cleverest adjectives to describe detailed, jewel-like writing that she admires is "lapidary." She uses it twice in the book to describe the Antarctic writing of other authors. But HER OWN writing is as jewel-like and detailed in the extreme. What an extraordinary book. It's not like a book at all - it's like a world.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent and insightful despatch from 90 South, 29 Dec 2001
By 
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
Sara Wheeler visited Antarctica under the Writers and Artists program. She travelled extensively and visited the staions of many countries.
This book strikes me as being astonishingly perceptive. She appreciates subtle and less-subtle differences between the nationalities (I'm afraid that the laddish atmosphere of the British base was somewhat unwelcoming). She points out that the real reason for all of these countries maintaining an antarctic presence is more political than scientific.
This book is a rare blend of the spiritual and the scientific. Wild lonely places often evoke a feeling of closeness to God and although many authors have written about this, Ms Wheeler in addition furnishes us with explanations on katabatic winds.
There are tangible connections between her journey and those of the early explorers.....
Lots of little things ring true; she does not display her antarctic mementoes because, off the ice, no-one will understand. I can well believe it. Try telling someone you would like to visit Antarctica and watch their reaction......
Great book. Better travel writing than Theroux, and that's high praise. Buy it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a mystery most of us will never see, 7 Mar 2005
By 
E. J. Hothersall "numpty features" (Stoke on Trent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
I really enjoyed Sara Wheeler's insights into a strange and unforgiving world that very few of us will ever have a privilege to see. Perhaps the book doesn't cover the controversies of Antarcitca enough - the constant battle to turn the continent into a giant oil field is one of the last great eco-battles. But in essence, no-one could read this book and be unmoved by the beauty of the place, and feel a little jealous.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield..., 27 May 2001
By 
Mr I A Collinson (East Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
There are some places that even the most hardened travellers, save for Dennis Tito, will never get the chance to experience; space is one, Antarctica is another. Sara manages to blend natural history and human endeavour with a wicked sense of humour. Superb.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 22 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
Just finished reading this...couldn't put it down. Sara Wheeler really nails down the essence of the lure of Antarctica as a blend of physical and inner journeys, and the way the place alters human relationships. She fully justifies the support of artists in Antarctica. And she's honest enough to describe the British base, Rothera, as a trough of despond plagued by the worst excesses of the British male psyche. This book could probably only have been written by a woman. Very strongly recommended.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Outstanding Beauty, Intelligence and Humor, 9 Sep 2000
By 
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
In writing this novel, Sara Wheeler brings life and humour to the most desolate of continents. Although primarily a travelogue, after finishing it I found it had been a great deal more. Sara manages to convey the essence of Antarctica and its attraction to the individuals past and present who choose to explore, live and work there. She has also been able to capture the human aspect of this continent - the often eccentric but (usually) incredibly welcoming nature of the people she encounters along the way (this task is aided by her superbly dry wit).
Whether you have an interest in Antarctica or not, I suggest you read this book - you won't be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Easy to Read, 12 July 2007
By 
Wendy Jones "wjones7423" (Dundee, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
This book is extremely well written and enjoyable. Despite containing a lot of historical detail it still manages to entertain, and as I say in my review title it is easy to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the insights into the lives of the historical explorers. I am not a cold weather person but I found myself wanting to go there. The descriptions of the people are well crafted and you feel you know each of them intimately. I particularly like the descriptions of the English v the Americans and I can imagine each one. Why four stars instead of five. I found some of the scientific discussions difficult to understand but don't let this put you off, as the book is an excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's cold, 12 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
This is perhaps the only travel book I have really enjoyed without being at all tempted to visit such a godawful place.
I particularly enjoyed the way the author manages to write about how the inhabitants of the various countries' bases she visits manage to impose their own cultural identities on the place. How do you think an American and British Antarctic base will differ?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Guide to the ICE, 3 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica (Paperback)
Terra Incognita recently accompanied me on my first time trip to Antarctica. I found Sara's insights refreshing and very accurate. Her complementing historical interludes added volumes to my visit.
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Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica
Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica by Sara Wheeler (Paperback - 4 Sep 1997)
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