on 2 January 2013
Having previously read several books on Antarctic exploration, especially those about Captain Scott, I thought Chris Turney did an excellent job in presenting information on the global interest in Antarctica 100 years ago. Much of the literature available about this subject focuses, perhaps understandably, on Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, so it was refreshing to read about Mawson, Filchner, Shirase et al.
I didn't have any problem at all with the author's style of writing and thought he met in full the objectives of the book, namely to put into context the various expeditions to Antarctica during that period in history. I applaud too the author's closing comments extolling the ongoing need for the effective communication of scientific discovery to inspire present and future generations. That is surely the lasting legacy of all the Antarctic explorers of that time and one which I felt Chris Turney conveyed very effectively.
on 31 December 2012
Though I wouldn't have gone out and bought such a book I happily read it when given it as a Christmas present. The fact that I finished it in a couple of days is testimony to its readability.
The author doesn't make too much of the Captain Scott story, which is fair enough since anyone interested in Antarctic exploration is going to know that anyway. What he does do is put that story into the context of previous Antarctic exploration attempts, and others at the same time, such as the Japanese and German expeditions. This is well done and contributes not just to a overview of polar exploration but serves to show aspects of the rivalry between various nations, and their colonies in the British case, in the run-up to the Great War.
Occasionally the sentences are a bit convoluted. A good editor would have queried what the author was trying to say and got him to rewrite passages. It is also rather disgraceful that the editor did not pick up on the use of the word flounder instead of what was meant, founder in at least two places in the book - page 84, second last sentence, "The British ship was seriously overloaded and there was a real risk it would flounder." And on page 45 he talks of the danger of a ship's "floundering". To flounder means to struggle in mud or when wading. To founder means for a ship to fill with water and sink.