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on 14 May 2016
Good thanks
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on 18 April 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed Call of the White, and gained a great respect for Felicity Aston! What an amazing task she took on to take such a diverse group on such a trip... Definately worth reading!
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on 28 April 2015
BrilliNt book if you are interested in any way in adventure or Antartica.
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on 14 January 2017
The premise (explained in other reviews) is interesting and visionary. It's a great story and the more interesting for being very much a study in feminine leadership of a feminine team, in a hard-core challenge and adventure situation. The team's success was inspirational, if also a little surprising - given their rather makeshift training regime and shoe-string logistics. The only way in which the book puzzled me was how a professional travel writer managed to evoke so little sense of place on her travels; she visits each country the team comes from but might as well be going from Manchester to Leeds. The only point at which they cease to be generic women and acquire some sense on their culture is with the impact of the Bruneian woman's religion - which simply leaves the writer a bit nonplussed! For the rest, they could be a bunch of women from Norfolk, for all the sense of the interplay of culture and its impact on leadership and collective achievement. Still a good read,though- and a bit of a counterweight to the usual menu of masculine drama and alpha-male behaviours from extreme travel and expedition writing (especially of the polar/mountain variety).
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on 14 December 2013
Aston has a vision to take a small team of women from Commonwealth countries around the world on an Antarctic expedition, and after being promised support from The Winston Churchill Support Trust sets about selecting members.

She posts advert for candidates and goes to Ghana, India, Cyprus, Jamaica, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and New Zealand. Having whittled down around 800 applicants to 15 for a weeks training and selection in Norway. For some of the ladies this was a baptism by ice as they had never seen snow or experienced cold weather. She describes the emotion dilemma of selecting the final team, and telling those who would not be going.

With her team selected, she has the stress of trying to manage the team , the fundraising and the logistics of getting all to New Zealand for further training. She drops the New Zealand Candidate, after this as she feels that she wold be battling her throughout the expedition.

And so to the frozen continent. She finally makes it with her team, and they have several days acclimatising to the harsh environment. One member has t drop out, and following approval from the authorities they set off. The journey to the pole is mostly straightforward, there is the odd mishap, and flared temper, but these women are here for a purpose, and there are determined to make it.

It is a heartwarming book, Antarctica is harsh unforgiving environment, that the smallest of errors can be fatal, or cause serious injury. These women from diverse backgrounds became the first from some nations ever to get to the South Pole, and the first to ski there as well. Aston says at the end, if anyone says that you can't do something, remember this moment and know that you can.
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on 29 August 2012
Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole, is Felicity Aston's account of her project to create a team of women from eight different Commonwealth countries, with no polar experience, and get them all to ski to the South Pole.

This included taking women from places like Jamaica, Brunei and Ghana - not countries typically associated with cold weather exploits - to Antarctica after only two short training expeditions in Norway and New Zealand. The culminating expedition was only the final step along a bumpy road which included trying to gather applications from far flung countries by giving interviews on local radio stations, obtaining visas and blessings from high commissions and embassies, and generally trying to coordinate a huge project across seven time zones using email and Skype.

I was particularly keen to read this book, firstly because I knew some of the participants - apart from Felicity, who I'd met a few times through BSES, Helen Turton, who represented the UK, is a friend of mine, and various other familiar names crop up throughout the book, Guy Risdon doing the first aid, and Steve Jones sorting their Antarctic Logistics. I was also drafted in to work as the UK Support for their expedition so had an added interest in hearing how it all went.

One of the things that struck me was just how they went through on the ice that never made it back to me. I was the one that took their phone calls and uploaded their blogs and podcasts to the website every day but most of the stories were still news to me. A testament to the professionalism and collective brave face of the team.

In fact, Aston's professional approach and leadership shine through throughout the book. She meets her fair share of doubters along the way - no doubt sceptical about a "bunch of girls with no experience" trying to play with the big boys down in Antarctica - but she rises above them all with confidence (unlike the others, Aston has a wealth of expedition and polar experience).

Aston's journalistic skill is evident in a well put-together book that flows easily and doesn't suffer from any of the common pitfalls of expedition story telling. It must have been a difficult task to give a fair and accurate account of all that went on amongst the team but, as is evident from the thought processes laid out on paper, Aston is a thoughtful character who carries a responsibilities seriously.

What is refreshing about this story is that although Aston does of course end up skiing across Antarctica, you get the real feeling that this was never a project about her. It was not a just a handy marketing ploy to get another idea funded. You get the clear sense that she was trying to do something different and to make a statement, not just to her seven team mates but to women throughout the Commonwealth and people across the world. A wonderful and empowering story.
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on 4 April 2011
Felicity has written a moving and often humorous account of her epic journey to the South Pole with a team of indomitable women from several Commonwealth countries. Her descriptions her of their trials and tribultaions during their gruelling journey are very moving.

The lessons for aspiring expedition members and for experienced leaders are there for all to learn. Anyone who has ever taken a team out into the wilderness will recognise the stressful moments when leadership, patience and humility are tested to breaking point and will sympathise with the tolerant and understanding way the very best was coaxed out of everyone in the team. I walked every mile with those wonderful women and rejoiced, as they did, when beyond all their expectations they succeeded in completing their long march.

This is a pacy and uplifting read and one that should sit on the bookshelf of anyone who dares to take an expedition into the wilderness. The heroines are vigorous and vital women but the book is not about feminism. It is all about testing oneself to the limit and yet keeping ones eyes open to the wonders of the world in areas far beyond the normal scope of human experience.

I now want to know more about Era, Helen, Sophia, Reena, Kylie and Steph and how they have settled back into their everday lives. I want to know what further adventures they have planned and I want to hear more about other similar opportunities for Comonwealth citizens.

Thank you Felicity for such an enjoyable and uplifting read.
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on 6 April 2012
I learned about this book while following the story of Felicity Aston's solo trek across Antartica, using only muscle power and skis. This book was about a previous expedition where she led a group of international women from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole in 2009. The book is amazing. Felicity has a skill of writing and telling a story that makes the reader feel like they are right there in Antarctica with her. It was hard to put down as it was quite a page turner. Felicity's level of leadership is exemplary i.e she also outlines the process from the start of the project, recruiting women for the project, and taking care of an infinite number of details from the get go. She tells the story of ordinary women who were able to achieve extraordinary things, and her leadership on a day to day basis involving problems that had to be solved as well as other issues were phenominal. She also made it clear that all of human kind have the innate ability to soar and achieve if we put our minds to it. Congratulations for a well done read. Bonnie Krim
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on 5 August 2011
This is a brilliant account of Felicity's skills in creating a team of diverse women and leading them on a journey of a lifetime.From the initial idea of taking a team of women from different Commonwealth countries , some without any experience
of snow never mind antartica, and competing a trek to the South Pole, is incredible. This book contains it all,logistic and
finance problems,the race across the world to interview candidates for the enduing trip, to the humour of the 'louis poo-uitton bags' , and the personality clashes with some of the team members.I felt sorry for one girl who had malaria and had to stand down at the last moment.
I think this book rates along side Ranulph Fiennes accounts of extreme journeys and is a must read for anyone interested in the subject. I hear that Felicity is to embark on a solo ski trek across antartica and look forward to reading her tale of it, as well as wishing her well.
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on 17 April 2012
Given that most polar exploration books are about beards and testosterone, this was a refreshing change.
It has all the usual good stuff that people enjoy in polar books (pulling big sledges, getting cold, being hard as nails) but it is the relationships between the women on the expedition that really stands out.
An excellent read.
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