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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon

 

 

 

Antarctica: An encyclopedia from Abbott Ice Shelf to Zooplankton

Edited by Mary Trewby

David Bateman Ltd
ISBN: 1 86953 453 0
Price: NZ$60.00

During thirty years' filming in the Antarctic, award-winning documentary company Natural History New Zealand Ltd has amassed vast experience and knowledge of the continent. Together with an impressive list of consultant editors the company has produced this handsome volume that no polar enthusiast or school library should be without.

The 3-column layout is clear and uncluttered, easily navigable with its blue headwords for each entry and cross-references denoted by small caps. The photographs are, as one would expect from NHNZ, superb and many have been sourced from other archives and collections as well as their own.

Aimed at readers of all ages, there are over 1,000 entries and 250 photographs covering climate, conservation, explorers, geology, natural history, exploration, science and tourism. Even scientific stations and bases are included, and countries with an interest in Antarctica.

I was intrigued to find entries such as Air crashes, Artists, Fire, Graves, Motor cars, Philately, Red snow and Vocabulary. Particularly pleasing was the entry on Women, though it didn't mention how late the British Antarctic Survey was in allowing female staff to go south. One entry that made me laugh was the 300 Club, which I didn't know existed and have no desire to join!

The reasons behind place names has always fascinated me, and some are explained here though by no means all. Dronning Maude Land is not fully explained but Queen Maude Mountains is; Bismark Strait and Lambert Glacier are not, but Ekström Ice Shelf, Enderby Land and Ferrar Glacier are. There is an entry for the explorer O.G. Nordenskjöld, but no mention of the glacier named after him. I am sure there is good reason for this and no harsh criticism is intended - personally, I would not like to be responsible for this project as I know how much hard work and detail it requires.

Something I would like to have seen is a glossary or at least cross-references to abbreviations such as ASOC and GARP, even if they were just included in the index.

This is a fine encyclopedia, endorsed by the New Zealand Antarctic Institute, and certainly a valuable addition to my bookshelf. There is just one serious omission: the Polar Worlds website (well, as the book was printed just before my website was launched I'll let them off the hook this time).

To order copies direct from NHNZ e-mail nmurfitt@nhnz.tv


Reviewed by S.G. Servian

 

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