Edited by J.C.H. King, B. Pauksztat and R. Storrie
The British Museum Press
ISBN: 0 7141 2568 7
I did not expect to be moved by this book. I had assumed
it would be an academic approach to examining the techniques and design
of clothing produced by ancient cultures, with a view to the practicability
of the garments. However, I found an unexpected depth of feeling in
this book which gives it a special kind worth.
This is the result of the 'Arctic Clothing of North
America - Alaska, Canada, Greenland' conference held at the British
Museum in 2001 (hence Siberian and Sami cultures are not included).
The papers presented at the conference are reproduced here as individual
chapters, fully supported by excellent photographs, the majority in
colour, and some descriptive line drawings.
The result is a rich and often personal account from
family members who have graciously allowed us into their private worlds:
Jana Harcharek, who was guided on an emotional journey by her grandmother;
Chuna McIntyre, who describes the masterpiece that his grandmother sewed
for him; Dixie Masak Dayo, whose self-sewn story-dress helped her deal
with 'assimilation syndrome'. The poor man's fish-skin raincoat and
the myriad use of grasses made me realise that cultures with in-born
skills such as these are more likely to survive in a world disaster
than any technologically sophisticated culture of the Western world.
I hope that this book is made available to the Arctic
communities so that the younger generations may realise how great their
heritage is, encouraging them to learn from their elders and so preserve
something more valuable than anything money can buy. The message is
clear: Don't let this part of your culture die - you can be justly proud!
Long may such skills and artistry survive.
OK, OK, this is a map and not a book, I know, but
it's every bit as important as any history or guide book. This map has
been produced exclusively for the Antarctic Heritage Trust. No traveller
to the Antarctic Peninsula would want to be without it. It is double-sided,
measuring 80 x 90 cm, with one side showing the Northern Peninsula stretching
from Elephant Island in the NE to Marguerite Bay in the SW at 1:1 mm
scale. On the other side is a new Scotia Sea map showing Southern Tierra
Del Fuego, Falkland Islands, South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia and
the norther part of the Antarctic Peninsula at 1:4 mm scale - ideal
for plotting your ship's voyage! Both maps show full topography and
bathymetry. You can obtain the map when visiting Port Lockroy or by
sending a cheque for £15.00 (incl. p&p) to UK AHT, Kingcoed
farm, Usk, NP15 1DS (and please mention this website when ordering,
for a Phantom Strait
Whilst we're at it, no traveller to the Antarctic Peninsula
should go without a copy of Quest for a Phantom Strait either!
David Yelverton wrote this specifically for today's
traveller, as he felt strongly that all visitors should know something
of the human history of that region. The book looks at three expeditions
that ventured into the then unknown territory at the time that Captain
Scott made his expedition to the South Pole, and the experiences of
the expeditions' members were no less harrowing.
Order through bookshops quoting ISBN 978-0-9548003-0-7
or e-mail the publisher: firstname.lastname@example.org
Falcon Scott Journals: Captain Scott's Last Expedition
Introduced and edited by Max Jones
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199297525 / 9780100297528
Price: £8.99 paperback
The world-renown heroic but fatal expedition by Captain
Scott and his party to reach the South Pole in 1912 never ceases to
fascinate. Scott's own journals were first published in 1913, followed
by a 'cheap' edition in 1923 which sold right through to 1978. Oxford
University Press has reissued it in paperback as part of their World
Classics series that is 'recognized for its fine scholarship and reliability
in texts that span world literature
Each edition includes perceptive
commentary and essential background information to meet the changing
needs of readers.' This edition certainly lives up to that claim, with
Max Jones's masterful editing and illuminating introduction. It also
includes a list of changes made to Scott's original text, published
here for the first time.
Sailing the North East and North West Passages
by Jarlath Cunnane
The Collins Press
ISBN: 1905172230 / 9781905172238
There was something immediately refreshing about this
book. Perhaps because it's not the usual macho look-how-I've-suffered-to-achieve-this
type of narrative that we are so used to these days. Perhaps because
the passion for pure adventure by these men pervade the book from the
first page to the last. Perhaps because it is about a group of friends
rather than a seriously recruited expedition chosen for skills above
This is the story of an all-Irish crew setting out
to sail the Northwest Passage. From a casual meeting in a pub and a
friend singing 'The Ballad of Lord Franklin', the reader is swept along
the rolling waves of enthusiasm as the team is formed and the boat so
lovingly built. After achieving their first goal, they were further
inspired to tackle the more difficult Northeast Passage, from the Bearing
Straits via Siberia and on to Norway.
The group set out as mates and returned as mates. There
were real challenges but no heroics; no useless 'firsts' as their goal.
As it turned out, they did achieve a first, but this was mentioned only
in passing at the end of the book. As one might expect of the Irish,
music played a great part in their own lives and proved useful for breaking
down barriers when meeting the locals. The camaraderie and open-mindedness
when encountering minority cultures should be an inspiration to us all.
My fear that the text might be too nautical was unfounded.
It is an easy and pleasurable read, with some great photos. An interest
in sailing or the Arctic is not necessary for this book, anyone will
be able to enjoy it.
in Ice: The Revolutionary Idea and Tragic Expedition of Alfred Wegener
by Roger M. McCoy
Oxford University Press
Some might ask, who is Alfred Wegener? He is the man
who 'discovered' continental drift. He also conducted four scientific
expeditions to the then-uncharted Greenland icecap in order to gather
data about climate variations. It was there that he died, in 1930 at
the age of 50, whilst trying to rescue starving team members.
For me the core interest of the book was the events
surrounding Wegener's theory of continental drift - what we now refer
to as 'plate tectonics'. His ideas were revolutionary and he had difficulty
in getting his theory accepted or even considered because he was a meteorologist
and not a geologist. Furthermore, he was unable to support his hypothesis
with sound evidence. Surprisingly, it was not until the mid-1960s that
his theory was finally accepted.
Wegener's first experience of Greenland was with the
1906-08 Danmark expedition, conducting coastal mapping surveys.
His second was in 1912-13, again with a Danish expedition, which became
the first party to overwinter in the interior. The third was to measure
ice thickness during summer 1929, followed by the fourth and final German-funded
expedition a year later to establish the Eismitte research base in the
centre of the icecap. They were the first to use motorised sledges,
which were to play a part in their downfall. Incredibly, one of the
books taken along was Scott's journals, which understandably did not
help ease the men's anxiety when they came into difficulties. The account
of Wegener's expedition is no less tense and courageous, also ending
in heart-wrenching tragedy. However, scientifically the expedition was
a success, and the data collected is still used for comparison today.
This is a revealing and expertly written book that
deserves a wide audience, spoiled only by the rather flat reproduction
of the photographs.
Crean - An Illustrated Life
by Michael Smith
The Collins Press
ISBN: 1905172184 / 9781905172184
Tom Crean was the Irish hero of Antarctic exploration,
yet he lived his life in obscurity. Only on publication of Michael Smith's
An Unsung Hero in 2000 did he come to the notice of the world
at large. A Kerry man, Tom played an outstanding role in the expeditions
of Shackleton and Captain Scott. The extraordinary highlights of his
adventures in the ice were captured in some exceptional photographs
taken under the most difficult conditions; many of the images in the
book were taken by Frank Hurley and Herert Ponting. Together with some
photographs published here for the first time, they present a photographic
record of a truly astonishing man: of his early life, his legendary
feats of survival and exploration, and his peaceful retirement in Kerry.
The Irish are justly proud of their hero, and this wonderful photo documentary
of Tom Crean's life will keep you transfixed for hours.
All reviews by S. G. Servian