Polar World: The Unique Vision of Sir Wally Herbert
Edited by Kari Herbert
Hardback £35.00, Limited Edition price on request
Available from Foyles and Stanfords bookshops or direct from the publisher
Wally Herbert’s career as polar explorer began
in 1955 and it truly can be said that he bridged the gap between the
Heroic Age of exploration and today’s more sophisticated methods.
The Polar World is a very personal account of his various expeditions,
illustrated extensively with his own fine artworks.
Sir Wally is a fine writer who also paints picture
with words: ‘The smell of wood and linseed oil, rope and canvas,
dogs, dope, blubber, tobacco; the clutter of brightly painted boxes,
half-build sledges, filed rations bulging in polythene bags; the classical
symphonies on the tape recorder, the buzz of conversation, and the chatter
of the sewing machine build up this atmosphere of urgency, of expectation’
described their winter quarters. And he gives a most evocative account
of entering Scott’s hut. There is passion, too, in his attachment
to the polar regions and not least to the Greenland hunters from whom
he learned so much.
The illustrations form the major part of the book,
all beautifully integrated with the text. The captions describe the
concept of each piece: many are inspired by original photographs with
added artistic input to recreate the drama or ambiance of the scene.
There are over 80 illustrations in all (though it is not clear why a
few have been replicated as smaller images). The book is worth having
for the paintings alone.
There is just enough detail to give the flavour of
each of his journeys, and polar history is interweaved in the telling
of his own story. He writes specifically of Nansen, Shackleton, Scott,
Amundsen, with a special tribute to his very experienced travelling
partner Allan Gill. Ever respectful of those who had gone before him,
when retracing Amundsen’s descent of the Axel Heidelberg Glacier
he fashioned a Norwegian flag from bunting and a torn handkerchief to
attach to his sledge.
The Polar World has been expertly produced,
and daughter Kari Herbert can be justly proud of her first publishing
venture. I’m certainly pleased to have a copy on my bookshelf.
Reviewed by S. G. Servian
Double Musky Inn Cookbook
Alaska’s Mountain Cajun Cuisine
by Bob and Deanna Persons
Alaska Northwest Books
ISBN: 978-0-88240-619-1 HB
This book arrived just as I was hunting for a good,
spicy jambalaya recipe. With a little trepidation I opened the cookbook,
unsure of what to expect; Alaska and Cajun seemed like an odd culinary
The Double Musky Inn is actually a critically acclaimed
restaurant in Girdwood, Alaska. For nearly thirty years it has been
owned, and run, by the Persons. Bob, from Alabama, was passionate about
Alaska and Cajun food and he and his wife, Deanna, have successfully
combined the two. For Cajun authenticity Bob trained with New Orleans
chef Paul Prudhomme, and for his homage to Alaska he uses good local
produce, the salmon and halibut native to the region. The cookbook is
liberally sprinkled with praise and best wishes from famous and influential
Americans who have dined at the Double Musky.
What about the recipes? Most of the savoury recipes
use spice mixes, each having as many as twelve dry ingredients, which
are the basis of much Cajun cooking. The good news is that once these
are made up they sit in the cupboard ready to use at a moment’s
notice. So, one Sunday evening I sat, like I imagined an alchemist might,
spooning dried herbs and granules into an old jam jar. The following
evening with my jam jar to hand I followed the instructions for Shrimp
and Sausage Jambalaya. The writing was clear and accurate although,
be warned, in common with many other recipes in the book, you will need
to read through the list of ingredients well before you intend to cook
the dish because it refers to three other recipes that you will need
to have already prepared!
I thought the Jambalaya was great. It was juicy, wet,
spicy and very, very comforting. If, like my husband, you’re not
expecting, or used to, dried herbs then the spice mix can be 'overpowering'.
I will certainly be making the jambalaya again though, together with
a few more recipes that I’m keen to try out, like Halibut Ceviche
and Chocolate Pecan Pie.
The Double Musky Inn Cookbook is certainly mouth-watering:
from the deep-fried appetisers, the classic Cajun entrees to the creamy,
delectable desserts. However, in common with other restaurant cook books
this is certainly one for the more confident cook; a cook who will not
panic when one cup of shrimp stock is required, or a recipe calls for
Louisiana hot-link sausage, and will, instead, use an alternative. Does
the book do justice to Alaska? Well, I’m sure that, if I was visiting
the Double Musky, I would happily take in a few sights along the way.
Reviewed by Maja Brattisani, expert cook, mother
of two, and life coach.
300 Kelvin Degrees in the Afternoon
by George Pavlopoulos
What am I doing reviewing a Greek novel on this website?
Especially when I can’t even read Greek! Well, the 27-year-old
author is one of our readers, and he has put an enormous amount of effort
and passion into crafting his story.
During his extensive travels in Norway, George became
interested in the Swedish Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897, and this
inspired him to write his first novel. He told me that ‘It’s
about their expedition, what they found there, what they observed, their
whole existential journey through the Polar ice in the belle-epoque
period and the romantic spirit of that era. Also, it's about how this
old story is still alive today . . . the echo of that story today -
in Western societies - in an era in which the polar ice is melting.’
This is a translation of the cover copy:
Spring 1897; two boats set sail from the harbour
of Gothenburg. Aboard, Salomon Andrée, Nils Strindberg and
Knut Fraenkel. Among them is a crew of thoughtful meteorologists,
skeptical journalists, highly-strung engineers and talented cartoonists.
Course of the boats, the Arctic Sea.
Days after embarking, the frozen northern route of the three men leads
them to a mysterious hut on the edge of the world, then later to a
hydrogen balloon - and only then will their real journey begin.
While the 20th century emerges and the domination of man on Earth
reaches new heights, the three men seem determined to make their mark
on the dawning century -and an audacious venture is planned, where
only the southern winds can help them. After a long itinerancy, autumn
will find them on a white island . . .
Years later, through a myriad of objects, impressions and visits,
the story continues.
The book received a rave review in a national daily
(Kathimerini, N. Vatopoulos, 1 September 2007) and it is hoped that
translations might ensue – in which case we’ll keep you
posted. To purchase this edition, go to http://www.books.gr/ViewShopProduct.aspx?Id=4688725.
Reviewed by S. G. Servian
Across the Arctic
- One Woman's Epic Journey by Dog Team
by Pam Flowers with Ann Dixon, photographs
by Pam Flowers
Alaska Northwest Books
Adventure-loving older children and adults will be
enthralled with this book. In February 1993, Pam set out from Barrow,
Alaska with only her team of eight sled dogs, her planned destination
of Repulse Bay on the western edge of the Canadian Arctic some 2,500
We get to know the dog team individually, and and the
book is peppered with vignettes of useful facts. This astounding expedition
will keep everyone on the edge of their seats, and serves also as useful
educational material; there is even a comprehensive study guide available
free from the publisher’s website covering writing, science, geography,
maths, art and other activities. No wonder this book has won three awards:
the Benjamin Franklin Award, Best Travel Essay Book, A Booksense Children's
76 Pick, and CBC/NCSS Notable.
Reviewed by S. G. Servian