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Maybe Paperback – 31 May 2013
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A very inspiring and truthful account of success and disappointment. A real eye opener of the ups and downs of being a full time polar explorer.
I would recommend this to everyone.
The first expedition described is an attempt at the Greenland ice cap crossing speed record, which represents a change in philosophy of Hibbert earlier evidenced in the "The Long Haul", in which he painted a picture of an expeditioner interested more in the purity of long expeditions rather than wanting to set speed records. In this section Hibbert reveals a solid determination to justify to others his self-image as a world leader in polar expeditions, hence his desire to achieve the speed record. Hibbert's strength as a writer is his ability to recount precise details of expedition travels in an interesting way and he does do this in this section, although the subject matter is less exciting than the journey described in "The Long Haul". However, the troubling aspect of this section was that Hibbert goes to great lengths to criticise other Greenland expeditions, in a manner which I considered rather arrogant and ill-conceived. For example, he describes the current British record holders as "a fairly hopeless attempt", which is hard to reconcile with the fact that they retain the record and crossed in an exceptionally fast time. The conclusion I reached from this section was that Hibbert is seeking to establish himself as the foremost authority on Greenland ice cap expeditions partly by improperly attacking others and this represents an unfortunate change in style to the young idealistic explorer of "The Long Haul".
The second section deals with a failed crossing of the Vatnajokull ice cap in Iceland. In this expedition Hibbert's tent is destroyed by wind, and I was puzzled as to why in such a lengthy section the brand of tent was not mentioned, particularly as Hibbert refers to many other expedition brands through the book. The feeling I was left with was a lack of transparency, as the brand of tent is of fundamental importance to the failure of the expedition and any proper consideration of the merits of the expedition.
The third section deals with an expedition to lay depots for a North Pole attempt, which fails due to ill-health of a team-mate. Hibbert describes the detail of this expedition well, in particular the difficulty that can arise in selecting a team mate for an expedition. As with Greenland, Hibbert attacks a number of North Pole expeditions, which comes across as lacking credibility given that Hibbert himself is yet to accomplish anything of note in the North Pole region.
This book suffers from having very poor maps, as there are numerous references to locations throughout the book which ought properly be shown on detailed maps. Similarly, the book does not have any referencing, which detracts from the credibility of the writer's opinions on historical matters.
Overall, I considered the style and content of this book to be quite a disappointing follow up to "The Long Haul".
For anyone interested in the polar regions, the driving force that compels a handful of individuals to explore these difficult and dangerous regions and the future of this fascinating field 'Maybe' is an absolute must-read.
As a writer his style has matured, more clearly stating his vision and opinions, and leaving you with no doubt of his future intent. I can't wait to see where this takes him.