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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable but self limiting perspective, 30 Jun 2013
This review is from: Antarctica: A Biography (Hardcover)
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The acid test for me is usually readability - a good writer can illuminate the most inaccessible subject whereas a poor communicator can make the exciting dull. Day is an academic but a communicator and I found his style of writing effortless to read. His chronological approach also served to give his story structure.

However, this was not an encyclopaedic narrative and whilst there was plenty of human anecdote, once Day had got past historical discovery the story was predominantly one of the territorial/political fights over this land mass. Coupled with the fact that there were few photos or maps and the subject remained somewhat, well, cold in the presentation.

As a result, Day succeeded in conveying the story he wanted to tell (which was mainly a human one) but it was somewhat confined. Perhaps I was expecting a broader canvas or possibly Day could have brought the physicality of the land mass slightly more to the centre of his story than those who found it and those who bickered over it.

Very worthy for those interested in the historical and political angles but others may want to read it ancillary to books that offer a broader taste of the continent. An adventurous starting point for those might be 'The Worst Journey in the World' by Apsley Cherry-Garrard - still in print after 90 years and available on Amazon.

Despite my criticisms, I should say that Day succeeded in educating me about a context that I might have remained in ignorance about but for his skill as a communicator and managed to keep me entertained along the way. Perhaps that is what good writing is all about.
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4.2 out of 5 stars (32 customer reviews)
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S. Thomas
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