Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of the World’s Most Mysterious Continent, by Gabrielle Walker

Paperback review

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 12:11

   
 

Book Title:
Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of the World's Most Mysterious Continent

ISBN-13:
978-1408830598

Author:
Gabrielle Walker

Publisher:
Bloomsbury

Guideline Price:
Sterling8.99

Antarctica is like nowhere else on earth”, the only continent where people cannot live unaided. The first real attempts to penetrate its interior were made barely 100 years ago, in “the heroic age of exploration” of Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton. It is now a “science playground” because an international treaty prohibits commercial exploitation, but many countries have a foothold, with an eye to the future. Walker knows and loves the place. Her aim is to bring together all its aspects: what it feels like to be there; why people are attracted to it; its significance for science and politics; above all, what it reveals of Earth’s past and how it can predict our future. Does she achieve such an ambitious aim? Emphatically yes. (And the evidence of global warming is irrefutable.) Antarctica can get the better of our best technology, and if we “look honestly into this ice mirror and see how small we are, we may learn a humility that is the first step towards wisdom”.