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$16.97 $16.46 list($24.95)
21. The Longest Winter: The Incredible
$29.95 $20.10
22. The Flight of the Red Knot: A
$11.53 $2.82 list($16.95)
23. South: The Last Antarctic Expedition
$17.50 $11.00 list($25.00)
24. Four Against the Arctic: Shipwrecked
$11.53 $0.73 list($16.95)
25. The Heart of the Antarctic: Being
26. National Geographic's Antarctica
$10.50 $9.73 list($14.00)
27. The Crystal Desert: Summers in
$10.36 $2.24 list($12.95)
28. Shadows on the Wasteland: Crossing
$11.16 $9.90 list($13.95)
29. People of the Deer (Death of a
$19.99 list($26.00)
30. No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women
$16.95 $0.99
31. Waiting to Fly: My Escapades With
$10.20 $6.95 list($15.00)
32. My Season With Penguins : An Antarctic
$9.71 $6.50 list($12.95)
33. Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica
$17.16 $3.32 list($26.00)
34. Barren Lands: An Epic Search for
$6.99 list($24.95)
35. Disaster at the Pole: The Crash
$23.76 list($27.95)
36. Hell on Ice: The Saga of the Jeannette
$16.47 list($24.95)
37. 58 Degrees North : The Mysterious
$13.57 $3.90 list($19.95)
38. The The Arctic Ocean: A Guide
$10.50 $4.95 list($14.00)
39. Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along
$11.53 $9.89 list($16.95)
40. Arctic Wild: The Remarkable True

21. The Longest Winter: The Incredible Survival of Captain Scott's Lost Party
by Katherine Lambert
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.97
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Asin: 158834195X
Catlog: Book (2004-09-30)
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
Sales Rank: 13227
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Book Description

The unknown story of Scott's Northern party and their desperate struggle for survival.

Lost to history until now, The Longest Winter is not only one of the greatest unknown survival stories to come out of the heroic age of polar exploration, it's easily one of the greatest survival stories ever. In addition to the doomed team Scott was leading back from the South Pole in 1912, there was a six-member scientific expedition stranded several hundred miles to the north. The men endured almost seven months in one of the harshest climates on earth, living in an igloo dug out of a snowdrift. What makes their story uniquely compelling is that it is primarily based on the unpublished diaries of the members, particularly the man who came to be the hero of the party, Dr. Murray Levick. His day-to-day entries offer a rare glimpse into the psychology of a group of relative strangers who must depend on each other for survival while suffering through subzero weather, starvation, dysentery, and mental breakdowns. They finally embarked on a grueling 37-day, 230-mile journey to an unknown end; yet all six men survived—to a large degree because of Dr. Levick—only to learn the terrible fate of the polar party. 27 b/w photographs. ... Read more

22. The Flight of the Red Knot: A Natural History Account of a Small Bird's Annual Migration from the Arctic Circle to the Tip of South America and Back
by Brian Harrington, Charles Flowers
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 0393038610
Catlog: Book (1996-02-01)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 806352
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The epic subtitle only hints at the amazing scope of this story. The subject is the migration of a species of sandpiper, known as the red knot for its smoked salmon breeding coloration. These birds mass in the tens of thousands on New Jersey's Delaware Bay beaches in late May, a pit stop between Brazil and Hudson Bay, one leg of their immense journey. Their short New Jersey sojourn indicates both the wonder of their stamina and the fragility of the whole elaborately evolved enterprise, for they use this stop to consume a prodigious number--as many as 135,000--of tiny horseshoe crab eggs. Yet this bit of New Jersey shore is a vital link that makes the completion of the trip possible. An astonishing and important story. ... Read more

23. South: The Last Antarctic Expedition of Shakleton and the Endurance
by Sir Ernest Shackleton
list price: $16.95
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Asin: 1558217835
Catlog: Book (1998-10-01)
Publisher: The Lyons Press
Sales Rank: 42029
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This first-person account of the Endurance crew's famed odyssey across the frozen Antarctic is one of the most amazing adventure stories ever.

In the summer of 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men set out to make the first sea-to-sea crossing of the most inhospitable continent on earth. One year later, halfway to their objective and their ship destroyed by ice, the expedition began an unbelievable journey back to the fringe of civilization. South is their story of battles against incredible obstacles for nearly two years, surviving on ice floes, sailing hundreds of miles on tumultuous seas, battling the unimaginable cold of the Antarctic winter, enduring debilitating hunger, injury, and misfortune, and finally overcoming improbable odds to reach help.

As Shackleton himself wrote at the time of the book's original publication in 1920, this is "a book of high adventure, strenuous days and lonely nights, unique experiences, and, above all, records of unflinching determination, supreme loyalty, and generous self-sacrifice on the part of my men." It is a story that resonates to this day as the classic tale of survival, resolve, and leadership.

Alfred Lansing's Endurance made the journey famous; Shackleton's book brings it dramatically to life. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Leader
Shackleton was an amazing man full of true grit and true leadership. Among the many things that stand out in his story of survival is the importance of keeping a journal. Even after many supplies and equipment were left on the ice, the men were instructed to continue to carry their journals. And what if they had not? Where would be the true story that outshines most fictional adventure stories in the minds and imaginations of many, including myself?

If you want to read more about Antarctica, I suggest T.H. Baughman's "Before the Heroes Came."

5-0 out of 5 stars Sheer will and nerve.
Ernest Shackleton's description of his voyage into and subsequent escape from Antartica is amazing. The matter of fact tone with which he describes his adventure seems wildly juxtaposed on the events which he led his men safely through. It's an interesting read which gives some glimpse into the calm and mechanically rational mind of Shackleton, the reason he and his men survived. I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Edge of Your Seat
Fascinating and exciting book. Shackelton writes in the most British of style -- he describes an ice floe splitting beneath his tent in the same plain delivery as the description of a depth sounding. The book is overflowing with the most amazing of events, placing Shackelton's crew in an adventure every bit as great as Lewis and Clark's expedition (read the Ambrose book "Undaunted Courage" if you like this one).

This is a fine edition, as it includes approx. eighty photographs of the expedition. From the outset of the voyage to the harrowing crossing of St. George Island, this guy would put today's extreme adventure-seekers to shame.

5-0 out of 5 stars Riviting true grit adventure, endurance, and survival
Ernest Shackleton treats us to adventure and daring against dangers that most of us can only imagine ... 30 below zero, 90 mph winds, killer whales, crushing ice, dead reckoning across the open sea. His ship is stuck in the ice for 10 months before being crushed, throwing 27 men and 100 dogs on the ice flow that is ever shrinking. Escaping from the roaring crushing ice to the open sea is a death defying feat that only leads to more danger from giant swells and frozen sea spray that soaks cloths and sleeping bags and threatens to sink their tiny boats ...and they are still 800 miles from any civilization.

Incredible, absolutely. And through it all Shackleton manages to describe the beauty of the ice and the wonderment of all that surrounds the hapless little ship and its mighty men.

A reading must for those of us who lust after adventure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awsome, an inspiration, an unsung hero.
A fascinating and chilling account of almost two years of living under some of the most adverse conditions conceivable. Shackleton is a master at managing a limited amount of resources and in practicing the psychology necessary to keep his men alive. He writes in a totally understated narrative yet the reader can actually feel the blowing snow, smell the burning seal blubber and and taste the hoosh. Shackleton is truly an unsung hero! ... Read more

24. Four Against the Arctic: Shipwrecked for Six Years at the Top of the World
by David Roberts
list price: $25.00
our price: $17.50
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Asin: 0743224310
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 43581
Average Customer Review: 2.56 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When David Roberts came across a reference to four Russian sailors who had survived for six years on a barren Arctic island, he was incredulous. An expert on the literature of adventure, Roberts had never heard the story and doubted its veracity. His quest to find the true story turned into a near-obsession that culminated with his own journey to the same desolate island. In Four Against the Arctic Roberts shares the remarkable story that he discovered, perhaps the most amazing survival tale ever recorded.

In 1743 a Russian ship bound for Arctic walrus-hunting grounds was blown off course and trapped in ice off the coast of Svalbard (Spitzbergen). Four sailors went ashore with only two days' supplies to look for an abandoned hut they knew about on the island.They found it and returned to tell their shipmates the good news, only to find that their ship had vanished, apparently crushed and sunk by the ice.

The men survived more than six years until another ship blown off course rescued them. During that time they made a bow and arrows from driftwood (Svalbard has no trees) and killed nine polar bears in self-defense. They survived largely on reindeer meat, killing 250 of the animals during their ordeal.

Fascinated as he was by this remarkable story, Roberts wondered how it had dwindled into obscurity. For two years he researched the tale in libraries and archives in the United States, France, and Russia. In Russia he traveled to the sailors' hometown, where he met the last survivors of their families, who knew the story from an oral tradition passed down for more than 250 years. Finally, with three companions he organized an expedition to the barren island of Edgeøya in southeast Svalbard, where he spent three weeks looking for remnants of the sailors' lost hut and walking the shores while pondering the men's astonishing survival.

Four Against the Arctic is a riveting book about man versus nature and a delightfully engaging journey deep into an obsession with historical rediscovery. But it is more even than that: It is a meditation on the genius of survival against impossible odds that makes a story so inspirational that it still fires the imagination centuries later. ... Read more

Reviews (16)

2-0 out of 5 stars Should be Titled: Find the Hidden Story
This narrative is an excellent account of how people can survive in the face of a challange. Unfortunately, the author details the actual writing of the tale much more effectively than dramatizing the task of wintering the arctic. The actual story, (which is hard to find in the book), and the photography would have made a very interesting cover story of a National Geographic. What is ultimately presented turns out to be a mediocre story of how the auther did toil to research the information in his book. But that was not about what I had wanted to read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pompous Author - and boring
I'm sure the tale of survival is interesting, but I'll find another book to tell me that story. David Roberts is more interested in telling you what a great researcher he is. He repeatedly tells you how "poor" his foreign language skills are (German, Norwegian, Russian) and yet he then proceeds to tell you how, with his meager knowledge, he managed to translate just as well as his professionally translated text. I've read probably 40 or 50 Arctic/Antarctic books filled with daily trivial entries, minute details, weather and longitude/lattitude readings - and I'll read thru days of that before I pick this book up again. Couldn't get past page 97. Then I skimmed through to find where he gets off his soapbox about his skills, and gets back to the story - but it was too carefully hidden. I understand that he was trying to weave in how the mystery was uncovered, and that can be fascinating too - I thank God for historians and authors who do and have done that - but Roberts just doesn't have the skill to do that without coming off as arrogant.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not enough info for a book
It's amazing the story of four Russian sailors' survival on the sub-arctic island of Svalbard for six years isn't better known, considering it's probably the most amazing feat of arctic survival in the long and checkered history of arctic and antarctic exploration.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with many of the other reviewers here that the "signal to noise ratio" of the book is pretty low; there really isn't that much information about the sailors' story, and most of the book is really about the extensive research the author did and his own personal journey to discover the facts of the story. Unfortunately, very little real information seems to be available and the result shows in the final book.

There is no doubt that the author went to considerable trouble and did very thorough and extensive research to glean what little information was available, and the author certainly deserves credit for that. As a former researcher myself I understand the fascination of doing research and the thrill of discovery in ferreting out all the facts, but the end result here unfortunately is still pretty thin.

The author also spends too much time finding fault with the French academic's style who originally interviewed the sailors, considering that Roberts's style itself is a little too ponderous and grandiloquent at times, especially about pretty trivial matters.

On the positive side, however, I did learn a few interesting details of how the sailors managed to survive for the time they did, and I enjoyed that. For example, they were able to build a wooden hut from the driftwood that floats up on Svalbard's rocky shores. Svalbard itself has no trees, but what it does have is literally tons of driftwood. This is due to the prevailing currents which cause the logs that float out to the sea from Russian rivers to end up on the coast of the island. The sailors also had to kill several polar bears. That's probably the most exciting fact in the book although nothing else is known about it.

If you do decide to buy the book the best way to read it would be to skip over the sections about the author, the French professor, and most of the details of the research and just read the passages about the sailors, because there is some interesting information and material there. This would have made a fine magazine article but there just isn't enough information to justify a book-length treatment as the author has done here.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Title Is Misleading
I'm glad I was able to borrow this book from the library because if I had bought the book I would have demanded a refund. The author devotes very little space covering the trials of the four survivors and devotes page after page discussing how he researched the book. Here is an example of what you must plow through:
"Through the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department at Harvard, I contacted a graduate student named Julia Beakman Chadaga, whose area of specialization as she pusrsued her PH.D happened to be the eighteenth century. ... Short with staight brown hair, parted in the middle, hanging loose about her face, Julia had brown eyes and delicate features. Though she looked twenty-two, she was about to turn thirty,... Julia had been born in Minsk, so her first language was Russian. After her parents moved to New York when she was eight, she learned English like every other kid in public school."

WHO CARES? I suspect most readers, like me, wanted to read how the four survived for six years in the arctic.
The author also devotes much too much space criticizing those who researched this sory of survival before him. I found this annoying and very unprofessional. In short, don't buy this book unless you're interested in reading about how he did his research. I gave up after page 75 which was about one-third of the way through. A more appropriate title would have been "How I Researched the Story of Four Men Stranded for Six Years In the Arctic."

4-0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air, without the dramatics
this book is so much more than the usual survival story one finds on the shelves these days. it is not only about how men made it through through many harsh months, it is also about the story behind the story. it delves into the inner phsyche of the survivors, and their families expond on what was passed down through the generations. no blood and guts here, simply a good read that once started will be like a race to the finish.

SR ... Read more

25. The Heart of the Antarctic: Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909
by Ernest Shackleton
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 0786706848
Catlog: Book (1999-09-01)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Sales Rank: 568814
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Shackleton's own thrilling account of his first Antarctic expedition and astonishing march to reach the South Pole.

With the same drama and adventure of Shackleton's later memoir, South, Heart of the Antarctic chronicles the first polar expedition he led himself, which lasted over a year and included triumph, defeat, and harrowing experiences. In 1906, Lieutenant Ernest Shackleton decided that he would make his own attempt to reach the South Pole, having been frustrated by his experiences on Captain Robert Scott's recent effort. His own expedition underwent such ordeals as the hazardous maneuvers to land on the icy Antarctic coast, the scaling of the 13,000-foot volcanic Mount Erebus, and wintering the polar blizzards before setting off for the South Pole. Shackleton's tension-filled account of his "Farthest South," reaching within 97 miles of his goal, is matched only by the return journey's race against time, an exhausted forced march back to camp before their ship sailed without them. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Shackleton's furthest south
For me the highlight of this book is the extract from Shackleton's diary describing the 'furthest south' journey in which Shackleton reached just 97 miles from the pole before being forced to turn back. This turned into an epic struggle for survival (unlike Scott 3 years later, they won) which is splendidly recounted with diary extracts. The rest of the book describes the first ascents of Mount Erebus and the first journey to the south magnetic pole as well as the rest of the expedition. Although it is well to bear in mind that nearly all of these period books were written in a style that shows only the positive side of the expeditions I find them more enjoyable to read than some of the more critical modern descriptions.

Not nearly as well known as the Endurance expedition a few years later I actually found this book more interesting and whole heartedly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at an overlooked expedition
The epic story of the Endurance expedition has overshadowed Shackleton's earlier Nimrod expedition, during which he and three comrades trekked to within 100 miles of the South Pole and other members of his expedition were the first to climb Mount Erebus and locate the South Magnetic Pole. This is a well-written account and gives a complete overview not only of the expedition but also of Shackleton's careful preparations. Read "South" by all means, but read this book by Shackleton too; it's excellent. ... Read more

26. National Geographic's Antarctica - The Last Wilderness
list price: $19.95
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Asin: 0792256042
Catlog: Book (2001-09)
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Sales Rank: 1356906
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27. The Crystal Desert: Summers in Antarctica
by David G. Campbell
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0618219218
Catlog: Book (2002-05-07)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 59777
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

THE CRYSTAL DESERT: SUMMERS IN ANTARCTICA is the story of life's tenacity on the coldest of Earth's continents. It tells of the explorers who discovered Antarctica, of the whalers and sealers who despoiled it, and of the scientists who are deciphering its mysteries. In beautiful, lucid prose, David G. Campbell chronicles the desperately short summers on the Antarctic Peninsula. He presents a fascinating portrait of the evolution of life in Antarctica and also of the evolution of the continent itself. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not About Antarctica
This was a disappointing read, mainly because it isn't about Antarctica, but about King George Island. Like writing a book about North America from research conducted on Cuba. Yes, Cuba is part of North America, but... If you want information on Antarctica, look elsewhere. Why he named it "Crystal Desert" is beyond me because there is NOTHING on the ice cap. Secondly, Campbell, who may or may not be a competent biologist, spends far to much time grinding his environmental axe. For some reason, he thinks he and other academicians are the only people with the right to go to Antarctica, making numerous disparaging comments about tourism throughout the text. Moreover, he seems to have a major problem with males - be they human, sperm whale, or elephant seal, espousing traits such as "machismo" and other derogatory human emotions to these animals simply because they are larger than the females. And finally, he spends the entire final third of the book expounding on the horrors of the seal and whale hunts that decimated the populations of these magnificant animals. Unfortunate, definately. But the book is supposed to be about Antarctica - not a treatise on over-sealing and over-whaling by people from another period in time. It does have some good descriptions of Admiralty Bay on King George Island - mainly from a biological perspective, but overall, it was a waste of time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but the author isn't big on introspection
Since I've visited Antarctica, and enjoyed its haunting, indifferent beauty as well as the spectacular wildlife, I was interested in reading an account of someone who had lived, studied, and conducted research there.

Campbell's strength is writing about the science, the wildlife, the extremes of weather and of living in a difficult place. His weakness is his utter lack of self-analysis. He berates the tourists who come to this place (does he think he owns the Antarctic area himself?), and laments the loss of microscopic and macroscopic life that is lost when the loutish tourist dares step on the fragile landscape, yet he is blissfully unaware of the far greater damage he does to the ecosystem when he powers up the hills to work on the weatherstation, and when he pulls up marine creatures and watches them burst, dying, under his microscope.

I guess anything is fair game when done under the guise of 'science', but woe be to the ordinary person who dares to learn about one of the farthest reaches of the planet.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite a topic
It would be hard for this book to be uninteresting, covering as it does the natural history and present teeming life, as well as the everyday life of a human community, in this remote area. My only objection is the use of some scientific biology words which may be common enough among scientists but which are curveballs for us lay folk. Otherwise it's a fine read. This really made me picture myself there, and want to visit Antarctica, and appreciate its role in the world environment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superbly written and lovely presentation of natural history
This book is elegantly descriptive of the history, both natural and anthropogenic, of one of the last true frontiers - Antarctica. Dr. Campbell presents an interesting history of Antarctica before the human invasion as well as after, which provides the reader with a better understanding of the environment in Antarctica.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best scientific travel book I have read
The Crystal Desert is an excellent exposition of just about everything you ever wanted to know about Antartica. It covers history, wildlife (from microbiology to whales), geology, scenery, life on Antarctic bases, and the present day politics of the continent. It also has a wonderful bibliography for those who want to know more, and is written by an author with a real gift for evoking a landscape which few of us will ever see. ... Read more

28. Shadows on the Wasteland: Crossing Antarctica With Ranulph Fiennes
by Mike Stroud
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
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Asin: 0879516364
Catlog: Book (1996-02-01)
Publisher: Overlook Press
Sales Rank: 367471
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A grueling account
Englishmen Ranulph Fiennes and Mike Stroud together made four failed attempts on the North Pole. Their major success was an expedition both inwardly expected to fail - the unsupported (carry everything) crossing of Antarctica.

There had already been an unsupported trip to the South Pole. Indeed, as they were making their crossing, the Scandinavian explorer Erling Kagge - who claimed the first unsupported trip to the North Pole, disputed by his rivals Stroud and Fiennes - was making the first solo unsupported trip to the South Pole.

The crossing of the Antarctic continent, however impractical, was the next logical goal. This account, and another by Fiennes entitled "Mind Over Matter," stress the grinding wear and tear on the human body, the bleak, black thoughts that accompany every labored step, and the life-threatening hazards of weather, crevassed terrain and starvation.

The difference in their stories is entirely point-of-view and personality.

Fiennes, the leader, sounds a practical, matter-of-fact note - his appendices on leadership, equipment, history and topography are nearly as long as his personal account. Stroud, the younger and smaller man, is more volatile and impassioned, resentful of the very notion of leadership in a two-man expedition.

They began the trip unsure that they would even be able to budge their sledges - loaded with 485 pounds of food, fuel and equipment. "It would be so embarrassing if, once in our harnesses, our efforts came to nought and the sledges refused to budge," says Stroud.

After four hours they had moved only a couple of miles on their 1,700 hundred mile journey. And the next day they had their first equipment failure - a thermos that left one of the major respites of their day, hot soup, cold and full of gelatinous fat globs.

On they went. Sails, parachutes inflated by the wind, had been an early bone of contention between them. Stroud was insistent, Fiennes, dubious about their usefulness and the added weight, agreed reluctantly. On their first try both found them terrifying and exhilarating.

Says Stroud, "Compared with the toil of manhauling, to be pulled forward at high speed was a delight so intense that to ignore it, merely because it was difficult and dangerous, was near impossible."

And Fiennes, "After a hectic ten minutes of being dragged over ice ridges, crossing ski tips and being struck in the back by the sledge....I suddenly spotted a blueish shadow some forty feet ahead."

Fiennes threw himself to one side. Stroud, used to seeing his companion fall, started to go around. Going too fast to stop, he plunged into the crevasse. Says Fiennes, "Appalling thoughts crowded my mind: chiefly how I would explain Mike's death to his wife and mother."

But Stroud had landed on a precarious snow bridge. The description of extricating him and his sledge is harrowing. The sledge was permanently but not crucially damaged. On they went.

Black thoughts, with no other outlet, turned on one another. Their chief friction was pacing. Stroud believed Fiennes was going slower than necessary because of brooding over his age (47); Fiennes believed Stroud was wasting energy by going too fast and later attributed hypothermic episodes to this depletion. Both experienced intense anger toward the other, most of which they avoided expressing except in their diaries.

Consuming 5,200 calories a day, they were using 6,000 to 8,000, even 10,000. Slow starvation far outpaced the lessening of weight on the sledges. Because of Stroud's medical record keeping, (ironically described in greater daily detail by Fiennes) chemical changes and physical debilitation were documented with appalling exactitude.

Both were subject to digestion problems, chronic frostbite infections, sores from chafing clothing and harnesses, skin damage from the depleted ozone layer, blindness from white-outs and from the absence of anything to focus on. But starvation was chief among their troubles, leading to muscle loss (even of the heart muscle) as well as every bit of insulating fat.

When Fiennes finally called a halt after Stroud experienced several life-threatening bouts of hypothermia and hypoglycemia they had crossed the continent, although not the ice shelf which intervened between continent and ocean. They had succeeded, raising millions (at a penny per mile) for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, accomplishing major physiological research and being first to cross the continent unsupported. This, despite all the practical, idealistic reasons given, was their reason for going, a reason incomprehensible to most of us.

Both books are well-written, expressive of separate personalities undergoing the same grueling physical and mental hardships. Both acknowledge they could not have made it without the other, for mental reasons as well as physical. Both are riveting accounts of exploration in a place few of us ever wish to go.

4-0 out of 5 stars There are two sides to every story
Adverturers come in all shapes and sizes - of ego, that is!And this book is an excellent opportunity to see the diversity of people who succeed at extremely challenging outdoor pursuits.I thoroughly enjoyed this account from a relatively modest style of person, who took on and succeeded at a challenge, the difficulty of which left me aching and bleary eyed just thinking about it.

In an era where many traditional sports have taken on some kind of "extreme" variant, this book defines "extreme" in a way that makes other pursuits pale by comparison.I was gripped that it provided an interesting insight into what life is like when you take on the genuinely extreme challenge.

People that merely, say, base jump from a helicopter onto the top of a snow-covered mountain in order to snowboard from apex to base, are amateurs compared to these chaps.They - voluntarily! - walked across the Antarctic continent via the South Pole just because they thought they could.Of course, they did raise a legendary amount of money to benefit research into multiple sclerosis, but that is not central to the story told in this book.

Mike Stroud gives one side of the story, in a manner that reveals his concerns over his own fallibility, whilst at the same time providing a case study in how an apparently ordinary bloke does an extraordinary thing.He is clearly not the ego-on-two-legs-type that many imagine these guys would be - but the writing reeks of someone committed to his views and those views involving a huge amount of thought.So, despite a self-effacing style, he seems unlikely to lack belief in himself - despite acute and moving accounts of his struggles to retain focus on a harrowing and debilitating slog across the most incredibly inhospitable tract of terrain.I liked the fact that he did things well beyond ordinary, despite not being ten-foot-tall-and-bulletproof the way we imagine many of these guys to be!

The other side of the story is told by his trek partner, Ranulph Fiennes (Sir, actually, with a bunch of that English stuff about being a Baronet and all), in his book "Mind over Matter".In many respects of style and personality, he is most things that Mike Stroud is not, so anyone with a picture of the larger-than-life-ego-on-two-legs kind of adventurer might well here some bells ringing when they read this account.

The contradictions between the two accounts are not black and white, but, in the shades of grey, there was enough interest at the time of their publication to put them both into that elite class of public figures - where they were the subject of a newspaper cartoonist's pen.Another thing that I like about Stroud's account is that he highlighted this, rather than papering over it.

Frankly, I liked Fiennes' account of the trip as well, but it was more predictable in a curious sort of way.Possibly the most can be gained from Mike Stroud's book when Fiennes' acount is read also - classic stuff where neither is completely right or wrong, and that is probably less important in any case than gaining a picture of how you are seen by others, or how divergent your image of yourself can be from that harboured by close colleagues.

This book - and Fiennes' - may well give you an appetite for more along the same lines, if you don't have one already!Try reading "The Worst Journey in the World" by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, or "Home of the Blizzard" by Douglas Mawson.

3-0 out of 5 stars Enduring endurance
A fascinating epic with all the hardships and truths told. An honest account of human mental and physical strengths and weaknessness. At times it unecessarily draws you into the on going ego battle between Stroud andFiennes. ... Read more

29. People of the Deer (Death of a People)
by Farley Mowat, Samuel Bryant
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786714786
Catlog: Book (2005-01-09)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf
Sales Rank: 188435
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1886, the Ihalmiut people of northern Canada numbered seven thousand; by 1946, when Farley Mowat began his two-year stay in the Arctic, the population had fallen to just forty. With them, he observed for the first time the phenomenon that would inspire him for the rest of his life: the millennia-old migration of the Arctic's caribou herds. He also endured bleak, interminable winters, suffered agonizing shortages of food, and witnessed the continual, devastating intrusions of outsiders bent on exploitation. Here, in this classic and first book to demonstrate the mammoth literary talent that would produce some of the most memorable books of the next half-century, best-selling author Farley Mowat chronicles his harrowing experiences. People of the Deer is the lyrical ethnography of a beautiful and endangered society. It is a mournful reproach to those who would manipulate and destroy indigenous cultures throughout the world. Most of all, it is a tribute to the last People of the Deer, the diminished Ihalmiuts, whose calamitous encounter with our civilization resulted in their unnecessary demise. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars The worst book EVER...
What ever you do, do not waste your precious life reading this book...

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes! A life-afirming wonderous book!
This book is magic. You will never think about a small band of Indians as statistics again. This book does volumes to make people of our society really feel what goes on in traditional societies. To feel jealous of their solidarity. To feel unloved by our own. It's great! READ IT.

5-0 out of 5 stars Remarkable first book from promising author!
First published in 1947 and available in a wide variety of editions since then, Farley Mowat's first and most distant book is still remarkably readable in the world of the 21st century. It concerns one of the stranger human sagas of the last century, that of the discovery and destruction of a remote Inuit society, the Ihalmiut, in Canada's north. The setting of the book is far enough away in time for us to marvel at how little things have changed since. The contemptuous attitude of European man for the aborigine seems hardly to have altered over the years. We are still hard put to understand the needs of the first peoples and how to answer them.

Farley Mowat has combined a fine sensitivity for the natural environment with a sharp eye for the details of man's place within it. It must be exceedingly rare in the history of anthropology that such an inexperienced investigator has taken such pains to get to the source of his information. Mowat lived among the Ihalmiut for over a year to write the book. During that time he witnessed the rapid deterioration of the small group which remained, and tried to examine the causes of their decline. With very deft prose for such a young writer, he points out the difference between the intentions and the actions of the European discoverers of The People (as they refer to themselves) and the consequences of such disparity. The Ihalmiut were exploited in much the same way as any other tribal band found wandering by the early explorers. However, as Mowat points out, this was an exceptional group which had survived the extreme rigours of a barren land (known to us simply as The Barrens) for so many generations, only to be felled by contact with the very race which might have provided them with so much assistance.

The Ihalmiut are long gone from their homeland but their story serves to remind us of our often difficult relationship with the land and the people on it. Perhaps, as a race of city-dwellers, we need to consider our place in the natural environment more than ever. Mowat's work is a just accounting of where we stand in relationship to nature. Nor does he suggest that we should all go and live in the tundra. Yet People of the Deer is a source of considerable inspiration for those now ready to reflect on the unbalancing effect of contemporary values.

5-0 out of 5 stars People Of The Deer
A truly insightful story of the inland eskimo people of the Canadian Arctic. It details not only their day to day survival in a harsh land, but also tells of their myths, legends, and history. It also tells of the whiteman's interference with their culture and how that affect may ultimately lead to their extinction. The book sincerely takes the reader into the lives of the People of the Deer.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Poignant And Enduring Commentary
Farley Mowat tells how the Ihalmiut people of the Arctic have struggled since their first contact with the white man. This is an enduring reminder to us all of how western civilization remains aloof to the plight of races it has exploited. Poignant and powerful, it should be mandatory reading in all schools and colleges. ... Read more

30. No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica
by Liv Arnesen, Ann Bancroft, Cheryl Dahle
list price: $26.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0002TX4CU
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: DaCapo Press
Sales Rank: 276895
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This riveting true-life adventure of suspense, danger, and endurance chronicles theextraordinary journey of American Ann Bancroft and Norwegian Liv Arnesen, twoformer schoolteachers, as they set out to become the first women to cross the continent ofAntarctica on foot. With their 250-pound supply sleds in tow, they walk, ski, and ski- sailfor ninety-four days, over 1,700 miles of crevasse-ridden ice, where any exposed skinwould freeze in less than a minute, all while three million children from sixty- fivecountries tune in to their adventure via satellite phones and the Web. A record of Arnesenand Bancroft’s astounding adventure, No Horizon Is So Far is a stirringtestament to two modern-day heroes. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars An average read
An interesting story but only an average read. Jumping from one author to another is distracting. There are many other books written about women doing remarkable journeys that make a better read an deserve attention.

4-0 out of 5 stars An exciting, well-told tale
This book's account of Liv and Ann's long trek across Antarctica is riveting, and it's just incredible how much they suffered and how they managed to continue despite it. It blows my mind that they did this in their mid-forties.

One of the most admirable things about this book is how Liv and Ann come across not as cinematic superheroes but as real people, fuming about the sheer politics of just getting to Antarctica, making mistakes, bickering with each other, but still, in the end, sticking together and succeeding.

Liv's explanation (on page 21) of why she does such things is very illuminating, but you know what? After having finished the book, I still don't understand why people undertake such insanely brutal challenges. I can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily spend three months pulling 250-pound sledges across treacherous terrain in subzero temperatures. But that's why I sit at home reading books, instead of crossing Antarctica.

This book would be great for parents to read to their kids!

4-0 out of 5 stars No Dream Is So Impossible
"No Horizon Is So Far" details Arnesen and Bancroft's expedition across the Antarctic continent. The two former school teachers set out to fulfill their lifelong dreams of crossing the Antarctic while inspiring kids to tackle personal obstacles and to pursue their dreams. The expedition team developed a curriculum that allowed students around the world to participate in their adventure while learning valuables lessons in science and perseverance. Told from both voyagers' viewpoint, the book recounts with suspense, humor and clarity the challenges and triumphs of crossing the frozen continent. Information on the business aspects of planning and executing an expedition is also included and provides, for this Project Manager, an example of astute planning by a culturally and professionally diverse team of individuals with an intense dedication to achieving the goals of the expedition.

"No Horizon Is So Far" is successful on many levels. It educates, inspires, and motivates. On the surface - and by the cover - this may appear to be merely an adventure story, but it's much more. The journey of Arnesen and Bancroft not only challenged the physical and emotional strength of the two history making women but it also serves as a metaphor for the challenges we all face in everyday life. The story is well organized and made easily accessible with clear and concise language that sets an inviting tone for the story and is open enough to allow the women's experience to be meaningful to a wide range of people. Kudos to the women for chasing their dreams and congratulations to the expedition team and supporters that helped them catch it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Journey Made by Two Brave, Gutsy Women
The list of obstacles faced by those who choose to explore Antarctica is familiar enough: blizzards, bone-chilling cold, deadly crevasses, disorientation, faulty planning, and a whole lot more. The co-authors of NO HORIZON IS SO FAR added one more to that list: they are both women.

Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen were both experienced Antarctic hands. Both in fact had been to the South Pole separately before they made the 1,700-mile, 94-day trek in 2000-2001 described in this book. There had never been an attempt by two women to cross the entire Antarctic landmass, using the South Pole simply as a halfway point in a larger, longer, more dangerous expedition.

Bancroft (an American from Minnesota) and Arnesen (a Norwegian) had never met one another until they began planning this expedition. They obviously had a number of qualities in common that made them a viable two-person team. In addition to the obvious physical and technical skills, both were hugely aware of the feminist angle to what they were doing, and both were media-savvy. From the start they wanted to make a kind of worldwide educational event of their trip, involving school kids from all over the globe and actively cultivating coverage from the heavy hitters of the television talk show lineup.

They also had business skills. They assembled a small corporate backup team in Minnesota, hired a PR firm and got down to the business of cajoling financial and physical support from the likes of Apple Computer, Volvo and Motorola. In order to obtain just the right kind of satellite phone, their support staff was able to lure a three-star general off the gold course to pull the right strings. They even got themselves an audience with the Dalai Lama, who gave them a flag he wanted them to unfurl at the South Pole in his name.

The book that chronicles their trip is written alternately in the voices of the two women, with further contributions by writer Cheryl Dahle. This is a bit confusing at first because, while Bancroft's and Arnesen's contributions are labeled, Dahle's usually are not. It may take the reader a chapter or two to figure this out.

There were plenty of problems. Bancroft suffered a crippling shoulder injury that caused her pain for most of the trip. An errant chunk of ice lodged in their transmitter beacon caused a false "Send Rescue" message to be sent that induced momentary panic back in Minneapolis. The complex mechanics of ski sailing caused all sorts of delays and headaches, and the capricious Antarctic winds had a habit of not blowing when they were needed most. The food was monotonous. There were problems with the private company that was to fly them from Cape Town to Antarctica (the company tried to induce them at the last minute to transfer their whole operation from South Africa to Punta Arenas, Chile).

And in fact, the duo did not actually cover the entire distance they had mapped out for themselves. A combination of approaching winter and tough terrain forced them to call for air evacuation from a spot on the Ross Ice Shelf that was tantalizingly close to their predetermined finish line. But since the Ross Ice Shelf is actually a projection beyond the end of the Antarctic continent, they were able to claim that they had indeed traversed the whole land mass. So who would quibble? Not readers of this engaging book, that's for sure.

The personalities of the two adventurers show through nicely in their prose. Each woman acknowledges her own weaknesses and the strengths of her partner. There is however a lot of emphasis on the media-friendly aspect of the trip. Perhaps it would be unfair to claim that this dangerous expedition was conceived as a "media event" --- but that aspect was certainly a major element in its planning and execution. It also lends piquancy to the retelling of the story. For example, an executive of a major credit-card company told their fundraisers that they were not interested in helping because "we don't have any customers in Antarctica."

Bancroft and Arnesen, by contrast, made sure that they had "customers" in classrooms and corporate offices all over the world. They are a couple of brave, gutsy ladies, and they have richly earned their celebrity.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Story
This is an interesting adventure that contains some good information. These two women had fortitude. Some information is repeated as each character tells her story. Lacks vibrant description but reads quite well. ... Read more

31. Waiting to Fly: My Escapades With the Penguins of Antarctica
by Ron Naveen
list price: $16.95
our price: $16.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0688175732
Catlog: Book (2000-01-01)
Publisher: Quill
Sales Rank: 267809
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A tour de force of nature writing, Ron Naveen's Waiting to Fly captures the spirit of the gentle and charming creatures called penguins while also beautifully rendering the frozen, windswept landscapes through his magical prose.In Waiting to Fly, Naveen weaves together the stories of his own experiences as a field scientist with the adventures of earlier explorers who have studied these fascinating flightless birds. He recounts tales of daring voyages in the Antarctic's dangerous seas and of the men who had to survive for months in this treacherous terrain. These stories of humans struggling to overcome the elements are paralleled with the lives of the very humanlike penguins. Naveen fell in love with penguins sixteen years ago, and ever since they have held a strong place in his mind--whether he is counting their numbers on the icy shores of the seventh continent or studying their behavior as they go through their hectic and productive lives. We see that their natural and healthy lives, unfettered by the clamor and clutter of our workaholic existence, can teach us much about ourselves. Penguins don't spend time reasoning, planning, pondering, or worrying. They're very, very busy, with lots of work to do and little time to do it. The penguins in this delightful and informative book emerge as distinctly resourceful and beguiling personalities.

While penguins amuse and intrigue us, their comically deceptive exterior belies the reality that they may have mastered survival a bit better than we have, and watching them may change our relationship with the earth--and with each other. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for serious penguin lovers!
From the first page, Naveen's love of the three brush tailed species of penguins comes through. Follow his account of years of working with chinstrap, adalaide and gentoo penguins in the Antarctic peninsula. Learn details about their habits and habitats as you read his entertaining account of his work. For the person who wants to know more than superficial penguin books tell you.


5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read from a world-class naturalist!
I loved this book. It is beautifully written with an underlining message of environmental stewardship. The antics and bustle of penguin behavior are combined with historical snippets from the southern continent. This engaging account is told from the first hand perspective of a wonderful naturalist, Ron Naveen.

2-0 out of 5 stars lots of information but poor organization and writing
I love penguins and so does Ron Naveen. His admiration for these small creatures and his awe of them and the environment in which they live is palpable in this book. Regrettably, although there is alot of good information in his new book, it is poorly organized; the writing is frequently mediocre or worse, and it is terribly repetitive. What it needs is a good editor. ... Read more

32. My Season With Penguins : An Antarctic Journal
by Sophie Webb
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0395922917
Catlog: Book (2000-09-26)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 272396
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What is it like to live in a tiny polar haven for two months? To paint penguins outdoors in freezing weather? To be flipper-slapped by a bird whose wings are powerful enough to propel it swiftly through frigid waters? To look into the oddly expressive eyes of a penguin chick?With charming watercolors and intriguing journal entries, this book inspires our curiosity. Sophie Webb gives readers a vivid, frank, firsthand account of what it is like to spend a season in a land not yet affected by people, yet populated for centuries by true dwellers of the Antarctic — the fearless, round-bellied, pink-footed, gliding, diving, utterly adept Adélie penguins. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sophie's well illustrated penguin expedition
Sophie Webb has applied her wonderful drawings to a travel log of her trip to the Cape Royds penguin colony on Ross Island, Antactica. Her drawings of the penguins in all their various activities are wonderfully accurate and delightful. She also recounts her experiences traveling to Antactica in a way that makes it very real -- I should know, I was there with her! The book is very well suited to kids as well as adults. However, note that she is quite truthful about some of the various fates that can await less fortunate penguins! Sophie has done a great job with this book. ... Read more

33. Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375753389
Catlog: Book (1999-03-16)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 73901
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

It is the coldest, windiest, driest place on earth, an icy desert of unearthly beauty and stubborn impenetrability. For centuries, Antarctica has captured the imagination of our greatest scientists and explorers, lingering in the spirit long after their return. Shackleton called it "the last great journey"; for Apsley Cherry-Garrard it was the worst journey in the world.

This is a book about the call of the wild and the response of the spirit to a country that exists perhaps most vividly in the mind. Sara Wheeler spent seven months in Antarctica, living with its scientists and dreamers. No book is more true to the spirit of that continent--beguiling, enchanted and vast beyond the furthest reaches of our imagination. Chosen by Beryl Bainbridge and John Major as one of the best books of the year, recommended by the editors of Entertainment Weekly and the Chicago Tribune, one of the Seattle Times's top ten travel books of the year, Terra Incognita is a classic of polar literature.
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Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Travel Book?
This is a wonderfully woven tale of travel to Antarctica in the past and present. It's not just Scott and Shackleton, but Seismic Man (a scientist there today), told in an engaging style. Nor is it just about travel to a physical place (albeit the most extreme on earth). Wheeler also describes the inner journey that travelers to Antarctica inevitably make. Antarctica is now on my destination list. But regardless of whether I ever make it there, after reading Terra Incognita, I think I understand the lure of the ice. The maps are good as is the ending recipe for the Antarctic version of Bread-and-Butter Pudding. My only regret is that she didn't include an appendix with the chronology of early Antarctic explorations. Terra Incognita is even better than Travels in a Thin Country, Wheeler's earlier account of travel in Chile.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book proves Horace's adage
"Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt"--you can't change your soul by traveling across the ocean. Wheeler quotes this adage and provides some fascinating insights into it from her own perspective, noting that her wanderlust comes from her fear of losing her faith if she lives too long and home and is forced to confront the sad realities of daily life. I feel the same way and had never heard it expressed so beautifully. This is a fine travel book that provides an interesting contrast to recent works on the physical conquest of Antarctica, for this is about the mental conquest of this strange continent. I have read many books about Antarctic exploration but this is the first one that made me want to go myself. I especially appreciated her comments on the disjointed feeling the traveler has when leaving the country she's just visited. Travel literature isn't supposed to be about the country you're visiting (that's what guidbooks are for)--this kind of writing is much more interesting and lasting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Travel to earth's coldest, dryest, highest continent
Sara Wheeler's journey to Antarctica began as a side trip. While researching a book on Chile, she flew to its southernmost point, King George Island, off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
"Standing on the edge of the ice field in a wind strong enough to lean on, squinting in the buttery light, it was as if I were seeing the earth for the very first time," she writes. "I felt less homeless than I have ever felt anywhere, and I knew immediately that I had to return."
"Terra Incognita" is the story of that return. It offers a fascinating snapshot of modern day scientists who are expanding the frontiers of polar research in Antarctica, framed within an engaging and well-researched history of human adventure on this most inhospitable of continents.
Wheeler's book is filled with fascinating characters, their portraits sketched with affection and humor: the scientists, flyboys and dreamers she meets in field stations and camps; legendary explorers such as Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, whose lives are vividly rendered through excerpts from their writings; and ultimately, the great landscape itself.
"The landscape drew my thoughts away from worldly things, away from the thousand mechanical details of my outward life," Wheeler writes of the spiritual aspects of her Antarctic sojourn. "I had found the place where, loosed from my cultural moorings, I could find the space to look for the higher power, whatever it was, that loomed over the snow fields."
By sharing her own responses to the landscape, as well as describing how other people have responded to Antarctica as a place and an idea throughout history, Wheeler has crafted a highly personal book that also educates the reader about the continent's history, geography and climate.
I would recommend this book to any reader interested in nature, science, or history, who wants to take "the last great journey" with an engaging and funny guide.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely magical and real at once
Extraordinary. Made me laugh and cry at once. Deadpan British humour and intriguing detail coexists along soaringly touching, even mystical, reverie. There is nothing sentimental about Wheeler's love for the Antarctic. This is a real journey told with incredible candour. It's a privilege to have read it.

One of Wheeler's cleverest adjectives to describe detailed, jewel-like writing that she admires is "lapidary." She uses it twice in the book to describe the Antarctic writing of other authors. But HER OWN writing is as jewel-like and detailed in the extreme. What an extraordinary book. It's not like a book at all - it's like a world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Breed of Travel Book
There have been many, many travel books written, but so few actually remain with you, actually transform you. Terra Incognita is one of those books.

No matter how Sara Wheeler got there, her 7-month trip through Antarctica unfolds beautifully between the eccentric and fun "beakers" she meets along the way and the intense splendor of the continent. Because of her mode of travel (spending a few days or weeks here or there, until her final 2-month stay in a shack during her last trip to see the coming of summer), Wheeler most likely got to see more of Antarctica--it's various bases, landscapes, and people--than just about anyone alive.

Added to this is a great amount of Antarctic exploration history, which makes the book seem more than just a seven-month journey . . . more like 100 years of attempts to figure out this hypnotic and enigmatic continent; reading it encourages you to do your own further research on this subject. While I do agree that there could have been more maps included, just have a globe or atlas nearby if you want to follow her travels more closely!

In my opinion, the downfall of most travel books is that the author focuses too much on him- or herself to the exclusion of everything else. Wheeler does include her thoughts, feelings--how she sees herself changing with each experience. These are never intrusive, however. The only other book that comes to mind with this sort of balance is Matthiesen's The Snow Leopard--another fantastic travel read. This book is quiet but never empty and never dull. Read it and be transported. ... Read more

34. Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic
by Kevin Krajick
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0716740265
Catlog: Book (2001-10)
Publisher: W. H. Freeman
Sales Rank: 46238
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the tradition of Sebastian' Junger's The Perfect Storm and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, Barren Lands is the extraordinary tale of two small-time prospectors who risked their lives to discover $17 billion worth of diamonds in the desolate tundra of the far north.

In the late 1970's, two men set out on a twenty-year search for a North American gem mine, along a fabled path that had defied 16th-century explorers, Wild West prospectors, and modern geologists.They are an unlikely pair: Chuck Fipke, a ragged, stuttering fellow with a singular talent for finding sand-size mineral grains, and Stew Blusson, an ultra-tough geologist and helicopter pilot.Inventive, eccentric and ruthless, they follow a trail of geologic clues left by predecessors all the way from backwoods Arkansas up the glaciated high Rockies into the vast and haunted "barren lands" of northern Canada.With a South African geochemist's "secret weapon," Fipke and Blusson outwit rivals, including the immense De Beers carte, and make one of the world's greatest diamond discoveries- setting off a stampede unseen since the Klondike gold rush.

A story of obsession and scientific intrigue, Barren Lands is also an elegy to one of earth's last great wild places, a starkly beautiful and mysterious land strewn with pure lakes and alive with wolves and caribou.An endless variety of primeval glacial rock formations hide copper, zinc, and gold, in addition to diamonds.Now that the barrens are "open for business," what will happen to this great wilderness region?

Barren Lands is an unforgettable journey for those who, in the words of a nineteenth-century trapper, "want to see that country before it is all gone."
... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Diamonds, David and Goliath, and the Dark Side of Geology
Barren Lands by Kevin Krajick is epic nonfiction without artifice. The author does not create straw heroes or villains, but presents the story and its participants warts and all. The search for diamonds in North America is the story, and myriad searchers enter and exit during the tale's almost 500 years. The ultimate discovery of the source of North America's diamonds in the Canadian Arctic is the goal of the story. Charles E. Fipke, a person who presents a lot of reasons for the reader to dislike him, is the unlikely David in the story and De Beers, the company with a stranglehold on the World's diamond markets, is the Goliath.

Part of my interest in Barren Lands stems from my training as a geologist with an emphasis in mineral exploration. Part of the reason I became a high school earth science teacher has to do with my weakness at keeping scientific secrets. I knew that working for a mining or mineral exploration company would necessarily involve the nondisclosure of proprietary information and I knew that I couldn't do it. The tension between proprietary information and open scientific discourse is strongly portrayed in the book. Another reason for my interest comes from the fact that geology students of my generation were very aware of what these diamond deposits in North America should look like. I have been telling my 9th graders for years that somewhere in Canada there are some diamondiferous kimberlite pipes that have been glacially scoured and probably contain circular lakes, making them difficult to find. I have been telling them that someday someone would follow the diamonds in the glacial till covering northern North America back to the source of the diamonds. Barren Lands allowed me to enjoy the fact that at least one of the things I learned in college, and then passed on to my own students, was correct.

I cannot recommend this book enough. If you have an interest in geology, exploration, history, nature, and economics, this book should keep you up late at night as you eagerly read the book to its conclusion. A special recommend to anyone interested in being an exploration or mining geologist. Some mining is necessary and mining is necessarily a destructive process. Mining resources like diamonds and gold present a large challenge to any environmentally oriented person since most of the money to be made on diamonds and gold is for luxury items, things humans could do without.

5-0 out of 5 stars Diamonds, Danger, Desire
Did you know that in about half of the states of the US people have found diamonds? Diamonds of more than two carats have been found, for example, in Ohio and Alabama, and finding them is often just child's play. Kids are the ones who pick these gems up, because kids are close to the ground and always looking for treasures. Finding a reliable supply of diamonds is much more difficult; the ones found on the ground are often chance deposits that were dropped when a glacier melted, but the glacier must have carried them from somewhere rich in diamonds. There aren't many such places, and it was a surprise that over the past decade, the Northwest Territories of Canada were deemed to be diamond mining country. The eerie, exciting, and disturbing story of how this came to be is told in _Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic_ (Times Books) by Kevin Krajick. The lure of diamonds has proved inescapable for a certain class of men for centuries, and Krajick's book tells about some of them he met while he did his research.

The Barren Lands (yes, that is the designation you will see on maps) is a half million square mile region as far north as Americans can go. There are no roads and no people, and it is called barren because it is above the northern limits which trees can reach, Since diamond exploration has started, however, it could well be populated with workers producing gold, uranium, and other minerals. At the heart of the story of exploration here is Chuck Fipke, a weird little guy who does nothing to improve the image of geologists. When Fipke was in charge of a prospecting expedition, he drove his men ruthlessly, especially his own son with distressing ferocity ("When you're not eating or sleeping, you're working for me."). Fipke was just one of a long line of explorers to the region, and their history is well covered here. The unbelievable hardships of traversing the area, or working in it, are well described in many sections of the book; bears, mosquitoes, and deerflies all supply annoyance or danger. Then there were the people. Fipke could not keep his operation secret for long, and DeBeers and other mining firms shouldered in. Fipke's team painted the plywood cubicles that held the drills with camouflage paint that would prevent detection from the air, and even ordered army-surplus camouflage nets to cover supplies. This was not paranoia; there were commercial spy planes making regular flights to see what was up.

The prospectors faced challenges from the environmentalists, who worried that the caribou, wolves, falcons, wolverines, and bears would get shoved aside by the industrialization of a previously pristine area, and the local tribes worried about water pollution, looting of artifacts left by their ancestors, and "perhaps most of all they worried that they might be left out of the profits." Barren Lands now has a hugely expensive mining factory, and will simply churn out millions of dollars worth of diamonds every year. There is a pressure to build roads and power lines to the site, which will mean more alteration of a basically natural area, but profits like these cannot be resisted. While Fipke and his partners are all now unimaginably rich, they are not unimaginably happy. Fipke alienated many of his crew, and shattered his family during the most intense of the mining preparations. He admits that putting all his energy into his mine had its price. "But that was _cool_! To do all that we did? It was _fun_!" It is not surprising that with this attitude, all the riches and all the family problems haven't made a difference: he is still out there looking for the next strike.

5-0 out of 5 stars What's required to find a multi-billion dollar mine

Rating: "A" -- the obsession, hard work, heartbreak and good luck
required to make a multi-billion dollar discovery. Highly

This is the story of the discovery of the Ekati diamond mine, in the
Barren Lands of the Northwest Territories, by Chuck Fipke, Hugo
Dummett, and others.

Hugo Dummett signed on with Superior Oil in 1978 to prospect for
diamonds in North America, just as the science of using indicator
minerals -- pyrope garnets, chrome diopside and chromite -- for
diamond exploration was being worked out. Superior started
prospecting around Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds -- now
inconveniently a State Park. Hugo and Mike Wolfhard hired Chuck
Fipke and his crew to sample the area. Lots of fun with jungly brush
and shotgun-toting landowners... Hugo even tried to sweet-talk Gov.
Bill Clinton into leasing him the park!

Fipke is a poster child for the space-case prospector-geologist, but he's
smart, has a sharp eye and was an *amazingly* hard worker. But a
*terrible* boss -- he drove his workers to exhaustion, and wouldn't
take elementary safety precautions, even on helicopter-supported
work. It's remarkable he didn't kill anyone [note 1].

The road to Ekati was not direct. Superior's exploration program (and
their competitors') went down the usual side tracks and dead ends --
including rediscovery of the salted site of a 19th century diamond
fraud. Then -- just as Fipke & company were developing some truly
good-looking Barren Lands prospects -- Mobil Oil bought Superior,
and summarily axed all Canadian exploration. Thud.

Fipke and Dia Met scrambled for money from family, friends and
penny-stock speculators, raising enough to stake a sizeable claim-
block near Lac de Gras, in the trackless barrens a couple hundred
miles northeast of Yellowknife. Then the money was gone, and none
of the pros were interested in Dia Met's "moose pasture." Bankruptcy
loomed -- but Dummett landed a new job with BHP, with a healthy
budget, and he quickly leased the Fipke-Dia Met ground.

Word of the BHP deal brought De Beers, Corona and others into the
area, but the *real* excitement started when BHP's first drillhole
found diamonds -- lots of diamonds! Despite strenuous secrecy
efforts, the word got out -- as it always does -- and the Great Diamond
Rush of 1991 was on! Tundra was staked by the township, and Dia
Met stock, which sold for 50c. a share in mid-91, hit $67 by the end of
1992. Fipke and his partners were paper billionaires.

The Ekati mine was commissioned in late 1998. Capital cost was
US$700 million. Sales of US$448 million (FY 2001) yielded gross
earnings of $285 million (!, EBITDA = earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation & amortization = gross profit). Mine life is expected to exceed
25 years.

District exploration costs (1989-98, Ekati-Diavik district, all companies)
exceeded US$500 million(!). A second mine, Diavik (Rio Tinto-Aber),
inconveniently located directly under Lac de Gras, is scheduled to go
into production in 2003 at an estimated capital cost of US$885 million.
Serious money is involved here. [Financial data from BHP 2001
annual report, and various web reports. Don't expect much financial
information in the book. Google is your friend.

Fipke & his longtime partner, geologist Stewart Blusson, each retain a
10%(!!) interest in the Ekati mine. (Blusson later gave $50 million to
UBC, his alma mater). When the big bucks rolled in, Fipke's marriage
fell apart, his brother sued him (as did many others), and his son
stopped speaking to him. The Big Strike had its costs.

The book's meandering start might put you off, but don't be
discouraged -- Krajick has a fine story to tell, and once he get's rolling,
this is strong stuff. No geologist who's worked in exploration -- or
anyone with a taste for an old-fashioned strike-it-rich story -- should
miss this one .
Note 1) There was fatal helicopter crash at the BHP camp in 1992,
while Fipke was project manager. The apparent cause was pilot error
-- flying without reeling in the sling-line -- but Fipke wasn't directly

Happy reading!
Peter D. Tillman
Consulting Geologist, Tucson & Santa Fe (USA)

4-0 out of 5 stars Revised review
On October 17,2001, I submitted a harsh and critical review of Barren Lands, by Kevin Krajick, which is still being presented by After discussions with the author and others, I regret the too negative tone of my review and now wish to modify my comments to reflect my much more favorable opinion of the work and its intregrity. I hope that visitors to this web site will discount my earlier comments.


John S. White

5-0 out of 5 stars Diamonds and Minerals, look and you will find.
Great story of the quest for diamonds. Just goes to show you, that if you are allowed to look you can find anything society wants.

A great story about a driven geologist that does not take no for an answer. Prospecting is alive and well, if the greenies do not lock it all up! ... Read more

35. Disaster at the Pole: The Crash of the Airship Italia
by Wilbur Cross
list price: $24.95
our price: $6.99
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Asin: B0001PBYCC
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Sales Rank: 403566
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen. The great twentieth-century polar explorers. But others, too, were engaged in scrambles to the poles. One of the most bizarre and unfortunate involved that enormous and impressive spectacle of aviation's early days: the airship. In 1926, against the backdrop of Mussolini's rising power, General Umberto Nobile, one of Italy's premier aeronautical engineers, gained acclaim by crossing the Pole in a dirigible, accompanied by the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. It was an unprecedented achievement for a lighter-than-air craft, and it would have gone down in history as the first flight over the Pole had Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett not accomplished that feat in an airplane only three days before. Encouraged by his success, Nobile decided in 1928 to take a newly designed dirigible to the North Pole, land men who could conduct scientific explorations, and then fly them safely back to base. But on the Italia's return flight, disaster struck. The ship crashed down on the ice pack hundreds of miles from help. The survivors, including the injured Nobile, were stranded on an unstable ice floe, desperately trying to make radio contact with the outside world. Their disappearance inspired one of the most far-reaching rescue missions ever undertaken. Seven nations and hundreds of men in air, sea, and land reconnaissance engaged in a needle-in-a-haystack search over the arctic wastes. Many of the would-be rescuers were injured or killed - the most famous being Roald Amundsen, who lost his life in a plane crash. Drawing on interviews he conducted with Umberto Nobile and other survivors in the 1950s, Wilbur Cross resurrects a stunning tale that has been long overlooked by history. He brings to life the struggles of the survivors throughout nearly two months on the ice, including the fate of three men who set off on a doomed trek to reach help. Disaster at the Pole also reveals the truths of the controversy surrounding Nobile, who was rescued first and was accused of cowardice and desertion by Italy's fascist government. Filled with political intrigue, heroics, and cruel twists of fate, the story of the Italia is one of the most fascinating among polar tragedies. (61/4 X 91/4, 356 pages, b&w photos, map) ... Read more

Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Gripping, Well-Written Tale
I had only heard bits about the crash of the airship Italia back in 1928, and now I am fully informed upon reading this book.

Cross wrote a well-researched, engaging book, conducting interviews with many of the survivors, including its leader, Umberto Nobile.It is detailed without being bogged down in minutiae or with too many personal editorializations.

A brilliant engineer, Nobile flew to the pole in the Norge along with renowned explorer Roald Amundsen.Cross is quick to point out the extreme dislike the two had for each other, though when Italia crashed, Amundsen was among the first to set out for him (and it would cost him his life).

Nobile became the tool of Mussolini's Fascist dictatorship and its intrigues--Cross pulls no punches in describing the jealousy and petty bickering that affected Nobile's efforts and nearly cost the expedition their lives when rescue efforts by the Italians were half-hearted.

There are some really interesting and heroic characters here, those that risked their lives to search for Nobile and his men.The horrors they all went through are well-documented.

Somehow, Nobile avoided false charges of cowardice and managed to keep his career going.At the end, he seemed to also retain his dignity.

A great read, with a lot of real heroes that make ours of today seem mere shadows.

4-0 out of 5 stars Many thanks, Wilbur Cross
I see that most of the readers given this book 5 stars. I given it 4 stars as I think only a few books deserve the highest rating. However, let me say this is one of the best book I ever read about Arctic/Antarctic exploration. I found the book in a recess of the library here at South Pole Station, where I'm wintering over, so that you can understand my interest in the matter, but I'll buy it because I want to own it.

It is really a further shame that was an Englishman, and not an Italian - as I am - to wrote it. However, it is really a great way to restablish the historical truth about one of the most shameful, forgotten, episodes in the long history of my country, Italy. Thanks to the author, even though, admittedly, a bit on delay, for having written something so good about the great Umberto Nobile and his life.

By the way, the original title of the edition I read was "Ghost Ship of the Pole". I don't know if something has been changed in this new edition

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but misnamed story, about a dirigible crash in Arctic
Even though they flew over the pole, the airship actually north of the arctic circle, but near some Norwegian islands. This book however, is recommended as the definitive account of the Italia disaster, and also a personal history of General Nobile. It gives some insight to him standing up against Mussolini and his Facists (Nobile was basically apolitical; he just wanted to design and fly airships and be left alone), which caught up with him after the rescue. The book really picks up after the crash and when the rescuers start to pour onto and over the ice floes. This was the biggest search since the Frankin disaster, fortunately for the survivors, there was now modern equipment such as airplanes and icebreaking ships available. Author Wilbur Cross interviewed Nobile in Italy and many of the other survivors. Recommended for anyone interested in Arctic survival, a lot of it is reminiscent of "In the Land of the White Death", though for anyone wanting to know about the circumstances of Roald Amundsen's death should look elsewhere, as it's barely mentioned except to say that his plane was overdue, and some of the Norwegian people were hostile to Nobile after the rescue since the Italians did practically nothing to rescue their own people.
Chapters are as follows:
1. Prelude to Disaster--the Italia is losing altitude and nothing the crew does will make it rise again.
2. The Impossible Dream--History of Nobile's airship designs.
3. An Ambitious Undertaking--The story of Nobile and Roald Amundsen flying the Norge to the North Pole.
4. The Next Big Step--Building of the Italia and preparations for more Arctic expeditions.
5. Premonitions of Trouble--The flight from Milan to Spitzbergen across Europe.
6. Destination Zero--Flight from Spitzbergen to the North Pole.
7. The Downfall--The crash of the Italia.
8. Picking up the Pieces--the survivors rally and gather equipment to survive.
9. Frustration--SOS is sent and rescuers begin to head out--but where are the Italians?
10. Split Decision--Mariano, Zappi, and Malmgren leave the camp to try to reach land and help.
11. The Shortwave Dilemma--They are unsure if their shortwave messages are being picked up.
12. Against the Odds--Italian Army Captain Sora leaves out on skis to search; Amundsen and others search by air.
13. Manna From Heaven--The survivors are resupplied by airdrop.
14. A Decision in Doubt--Swedish Lt. Lundborg lands and rescues Nobile.
15. Prison without Bars--Nobile is held on the Italian ship Citta di Milano against his will by his own countrymen.
16. The Ice Torture--The death of Malmgren.
17. Fools Forsaken--the rescue of some of the would-be rescuers.
18. Breaking the Ice--the Soviet icebreaker Krassin comes to the rescue.
19.Liberation--the final rescue from the ice.
20. Reverse Rescue--More of the rescuers rescued.
21. Voices Muzzled--the Italians are censored by the Fascist government and Nobile's reputation and courage are questioned.
22.An Abundance of Enemies--Nobile is attacked by the Fascists, including Mussolini, in court and elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars The 'Apollo 13' of 1928!
The Airship Italia disaster of 1928 has unfortunately been nearly forgotten today, but in its time captivated the world.I've read a number of books on the incident and this one ranks with the best (I even have an aviation text from that same year that was published after the accident, but before the rescue.The readers were left hanging!).While attempting to fly to the North Pole under the command of Italian Gen Umberto Nobile, land on the ice, and return, the airship Italia crashes on the pack ice hundreds of miles from civilization.The survivors are hurled to the ice and can only watch as 6 other survivors float off to their doom on the derelict airship.Legendary Norwegian artic explorer Roald Amundsen, flies off in a seaplane to attempt a rescue, and is never heard from again.The castaways confront sudden cracks in the ice, broken bones, polar bear attacks, and almost staggering incompetence from their base ship back in harbor, which didn't even bother to monitor the radio most of the time.3 of the party set off in a desperate bid to reach land and lead back a rescue party.The Norwegian Dr. Malmgren is soon too exhausted to continue, and after stoically help dig his own ice grave, bids the other two, Zappi and Mariano, on after giving them his food.The duo trudges on, clearly seeing land on the horizon, while the drift of the pack ice cancels out all their efforts.43 days after they started, the last 12 without food, the snow blinded Zappi and Mariano sit down to await their fate.But the Russian Icebreaker Krassen miraculously rescues them just hours from death. 48 days after the crash, and against all odds, all the survivors are finally rescued.First published in 1960, this book has the advantage that the author had personal one-on-one interviews with nearly every survivor.Ironically, after coming so close to death, each survivor lived to comfortable old age, while the majority of their rescuers met early deaths, either by accident, or in the case of the Russians, in Stalin's purges.Instead of receiving a hero's welcome, Nobile was slandered by Mussolini's fascist government, who perceived him as a threat.He only received the credit due shortly before his death.This story is just begging for big screen, big budget treatment (it was the subject to a not-well-known, but good, Sean Connery movie, The Red Tent, though).Hopefully, they wont take the U571 route and change the principle characters from Italian, Czech, or Norwegian to Americans!

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Adventure
Great adventure tale but there is a little too much Hero Worship on the part of the author. Overall if you are seeking an interesting true-life adventure you will not be disappointed. ... Read more

36. Hell on Ice: The Saga of the Jeannette
by Edward Ellsberg
list price: $27.95
our price: $23.76
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Asin: 0971830312
Catlog: Book (2003-06-01)
Publisher: Flat Hammock Press
Sales Rank: 293956
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Hell On Ice
From the dust jacket:
Nearly sixty years have slipped by since the Jeannette sailed away through the Golden Gate sped by cheers, sirens, salutes, by high hopes -- and by a woman's tears; the first expedition to seek the North Pole by way of the Behring Sea. Only a scattering of people recall today her dramatic fate, though it was the sensation of the time. No doubt she would soon be remembered only by Arctic historians had not Commander Ellsberg, delving into the facts and circumstances of that voyage, found them of the stuff that has made great human drama since the days of Troy.

Commander Ellsberg discovered in the half-surpressed logs of the hapless expedition a story of incredible excitement and variety -- a tale of men locked two years in the Arctic pack, of sudden disaster, of desperate flight across the cruel ice, of a wild small boat passage over the storm swept Arctic seas to the barren frozen tundra of Siberia. But more than that, he saw in those events human heroism and courage in the face of such hardships as have never been recorded before nor since. He saw men who had been ordinary sailors and officers transformed by extraordinary occurences -- some into gallant leaders, a few into shirkers and mutineers, others into lunatics, some into reckless martyrs, one at least into a hero whom all men can be proud.

No one could be more ideally equipped to make this saga of the Arctic live than Commander Edward Ellsberg. Author of On the Bottom, already recognized as a classic of the sea, himself a brilliant engineer, he recounts of the story through the vivid personality of George Wallace Melville, chief engineer on the Jeannette. A careful research through diaries, journals, Naval Inquiries, and Congressional Investigations enables him to use the actual dialogue and set down authentically the characters of the whole ship's company. Above all, his rare knowledge of men in action and his rare ability to depict them make the reader virtually a member of the most extraordinary Artic expedition in history.

In Hell on Ice he takes a musty, never wholly known record and recreates it in the flesh and blood with wild Arctic gales singing through it, with the screech and roar of the tumbling ice floes, the flaming colors of the Aurora Borealis, the smell of sweaty furs, and the cries of men, now hoarse and desperate as they face destruction, now softened by the hope of salvation; while through it all, strangely woven into the fabric of the banner borne along till it falls from dying fingers to the ice, is the presence of the woman who waits at home, in agony looking toward the void of the unknown North.

4-0 out of 5 stars To Be Read by a Warm Fire Only
As a longtime fan of Edward Ellsberg, I constantly search for his books both in stores and flea markets. Hell On Ice is frequently available on the used book market but buying a new copy makes sense after reading it. This is a must read for anyone who has ever been cold, wet, stuck in a snowstorm or would rather just read about it. Admiral Ellsberg captures the bravery, determination, skill and dedication of a small sampling of these heros of the Jeannette. Achievement of their stated goals is quickly traded for mere survival as this expedition takes the darker and colder side of fate seemingly at every juncture. This book is a fitting tribute to sailors of the era before radio, radar or GPS. A great gift for anyone with a sense of adventure and a cautionary tale for the brave people who challenge the unkown. ... Read more

37. 58 Degrees North : The Mysterious Sinking of the Arctic Rose
by Hugo Kugiya
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 1582342865
Catlog: Book (2005-04-11)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Sales Rank: 791802
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Book Description

The tragic and mesmerizing story of the deadliest American fishing accident in 50 years, the 2001 sinking of the Arctic Rose.

In the spring of 2001, newspapers across the country reported that an industrial fishing trawler had gone down in the icy waters just below the Arctic Circle, with the boat's position last recorded at 58 degrees north. The Arctic Rose sank so abruptly in the middle of the night that there was not even time to put on survival suits or call for help, and all fifteen men aboard were killed. Journalist Hugo Kugiya's investigation reveals a powerful story of adventure and disaster, illuminating how the modern industrial fishing industry gave rise to these sailors' dangerous and strangely archaic life. He recreates the stories of the fifteen young men, all of wildly different backgrounds, trapped in close quarters and able to call home or mail letters only in their occasional returns to port. And finally he traces the Coast Guard investigation, the most costly in history, as the authorities try to figure out what really sank the Arctic Rose.
... Read more

38. The The Arctic Ocean: A Guide to the Coastal Wildlife (Bradt Guides)
by Tony Soper
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 1841620203
Catlog: Book (2001-07-01)
Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides
Sales Rank: 638166
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Book Description

A barren and inhospitable region for most of the year, the Arctic is permanent home to just a handful of hardy creatures. But come the summer, the wind stirs the waters to bring minerals to the surface, nourishing the plankton that in turn attracts numerous birds and sea mammals to these shores. For just a few short months of almost endless daylight, the winter inhabitants of the Arctic fringes are joined by numerous shorebirds and waterfowl, seals and whales, all taking advantage of the abundance of food before heading south to avoid the harsh winter. Tony Soper's lively text provides the perfect companion to an exploration of the coastal regions of the Arctic and its inhabitants. Enhanced by specially commissioned watercolor paintings, this book will bring added insight to those visiting the Arctic in high summer, and lasting pleasure throughout the winter months. (5 1/4 x 8 1/2, 144 pages, watercolors, illustrations, maps) ... Read more

39. Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge
by Jill Fredston
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0865476551
Catlog: Book (2002-10-10)
Publisher: North Point Press
Sales Rank: 66916
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jill Fredston has traveled more than twenty thousand miles of the Arctic and sub-Arctic-backwards. With her ocean-going rowing shell and her husband, Doug Fesler, in a small boat of his own, she has disappeared every summer for years, exploring the rugged shorelines of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen, and Norway. Carrying what they need to be self-sufficient, the two of them have battled mountainous seas and hurricane-force winds, dragged their boats across jumbles of ice, fended off grizzlies and polar bears, been serenaded by humpback whales and scrutinized by puffins, and reveled in moments of calm.

As Fredston writes, these trips are "neither a vacation nor an escape, they are a way of life."Rowing to Latitude is a lyrical, vivid celebration of these northern journeys and the insights they inspired. It is a passionate testimonial to the extraordinary grace and fragility of wild places, the power of companionship, the harsh but liberating reality of risk, the lure of discovery, and the challenges and joys of living an unconventional life.
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Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Something unique and marvelous
Rowing more than 20,000 miles along the coastlines of Arctic oceans and rivers, this is the well told adventure of a husband and wife team that spent their summers over many years seeking out the wild coastal places around and above the Arctic circle. The author is a wonderful writer who more than capably presents tales of adventure and courage with an ample dose of personal insight. To read this book is to share in the adventure and excitement found along these barren coasts and wild Arctic rivers. Well worth reading and highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rowing To Latitude:Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge
Rowing To Latitude is a privilege and joy to read. Jill Fredston's eloquent, lively writing allows us to intimately experience-physically and spiritually-- her remarkable arctic rowing journeys. Fredston's authenticity at every level gives the book a unique cohesiveness. I was inspired by her wholeness of thought and being, her bravery, her loving (and rowing) partnership with her husband Doug, her tributes to her parents. And she tells a great story. I read a few pages of the book every night,so that I could go to sleep with her incandescent images of landscapes, sea creatures, and arctic light. Jill Fredston reminds us of all that is truly important. I cannot think of a book more relevant in these troubled times than Rowing to Latitude. I will give a copy to everyone that I love.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, honest narrative about life experiences
I was truly sad to finish this book. Jill is very honest about her adventures and about the frustrating and life changing times she has had in the wilderness. Even if the reader is not an outdoorsperson, he or she will enjoy the vivid descriptions of the arctic communities, the relationship between Jill and husband Doug, the struggles Jill faces in life including her mother's battle with cancer and much more. Thank you Jill for writing such a beautiful book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, Adventurous, Real
I just finished reading this book. I stopped part way through, because it was so good, I didn't want to finish it yet. Now, I'm going to name it as the book of the month when I host my book club next. This book is so fresh, so in-your-marrow real, so insightful, adventurous, and breathtakingly descriptive, it defies easy categorization. Ms. Fredston is a fantastic writer, and after hearing her words for the last 286 pages in my head, I sincerely would consider it a tremendous privilege and honor to meet her in person. She has sent me on a search for the woman in me who is so wise, so calm in the face of crisis, so adaptable, so loving, and so passionate about life and living it. I know I have emerged from this reading with a sincere desire to make my life what it is I desire, instead of waiting for "someday". I am thrilled to have her voice added to the voices of other women, so few, who lead us boldly into our dreams, fears, and wildest adventures. You must read this book, and if you have a daughter in high school or college, give her one as well.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great read
When a non-fiction book reads like a fiction book, I know I'm in for a great treat. That is, I find myself looking for little breaks during the day when I natch a page or two to read this book, I know that I have a winner. This is also written by a women who has learned a little bit about life in her winter job as a avalanche expert in Alaska, and she brings this understanding to her passion of rowing in the polar regions. It is Jill's descriptions that are a delight to the mind because they are so well written. Although, I have never seen as ice berg or an ice field, I feel that I have some greater appreciation of the beauty and harm (yes,harm) that they are capable of doing in a split second. I remember the words of some great sage, that said that getting there is what travel is all about, versus vacation when you take a jet and lay in a lounger by the pool. ... Read more

40. Arctic Wild: The Remarkable True Story of One Couple's Adventures Living Among Wolves
by Lois Crisler
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 155821688X
Catlog: Book (1996-11-01)
Publisher: The Lyons Press
Sales Rank: 84529
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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In the early 1950s, armed with the rudest of survival gear, a husband-and-wife documentary team touched down in arguably the most remote wilderness in North America, Alaska's Brooks Range. Their mission: to film caribou. The annual migration of vast herds to and from their natal grounds north of the Arctic Circle was considered one of the world's preeminent--if little-known--wildlife spectacles. But on this great animal stage another species of charismatic megafauna unexpectedly one-upped the ungulates. Lois Crisler's 1956 memoir, Arctic Wild, vividly recalls the couple's 18 months in-country and the wolves that would help her work earn a place among the classics of natural history.

The story opens like many an outdoor adventure yarn: extreme living conditions, the occasional grizzly encounter, no shortage of gut-busting work.Then the Crislers decide to adopt two orphaned wolf pups, a male and a female. The result is a journey through wolf development and behavior they never could have predicted. Assuming their human companions to be part of the pack, the pups go about the business of growing quite naturally into adult wolves. Their progression is punctuated by startling moments described in detail by the author, as in their learning to howl:

Sometimes [the female] ululated, drawing her tongue up and down her mouth like a trombone slide. Sometimes on a long note she held the tip of her tongue curled against the roof of her mouth. She shaped her notes with her cheeks, retracting them for plangency, or holding the sound within them for horn notes. She must have had pleasure and sensitiveness about her song for if I entered on her note she instantly shifted by a note or two: wolves avoid unison singing; they like chords.
The Crislers observe, film, and note every nuance of the wolves' change from playful pups to fully grown wolves--wolves that display individual personalities, exceptional intelligence, and highly articulated physical gestures (one of the pair, for instance, curiously investigates a sleeping human by lifting an eyelid with its canine). Revealed is a highly developed social mammal rather than the bloodthirsty murderer of popular accounts.

While the Crislers' pioneer spirit is by itself a remarkable tale, Arctic Wild's fame derives from its place as one of the first narratives to explore wolf habits in an accessible manner that is free of cant and politicization. In his foreword to the reprint edition, wolf expert L. David Meche (author of the seminal The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species) notes that Arctic Wild introduced to a skeptical and generally wolf-fearing public the animal's "beguiling personality." In fact, one might call Arctic Wild the first voice in the wilderness that, decades later, would lead to a gathering howl and finally the once-inconceivable reintroduction of wolves to former ranges like Yellowstone National Park. --Langdon Cook ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars An inspiration which has lasted over 35 years.
I first read Arctic Wild in the 1960's and have never forgotten the power of it's words and the compassion the authors demonstrated in showing the world that wolves are not to be feared. Much credit for my work in rescuing and rehabbing domestic and wild animals over the past 3 decades must go to Arctic Wild.

Having recently rescued two white wolves and being privileged to enjoy their friendship and listen to their songs, Arctic Wild has once again brought special meaning to my life.

I would like to see Arctic Wild made a required reading for all junior high and high school aged children for they are the fertile ground for changing attitudes. Of all the animal stories I've read and written, Arctic Wild stands above the rest.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magical - A book like this comes along once every 1000 years
Every few millennia, a book comes along that touches your heart and spirit, leaving you powerless to halt the tremendous urging of your soul to fly far, far away and seek the wonders that you have just read about.

Well along the lines of "Ishmael", except this is pure non-fiction.

Arctic Wild will fascinate you and fill you with a sense of awe and joy, the likes of which you've never felt by reading a book.

To say that this book was wonderful would be a terrible understatement - you may never read a book like this again the rest of your life.

4-0 out of 5 stars amazing
This book was one of the best books I've ever read. It was very heartwarming and sad at the same time. ... Read more

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