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Antarctica 2041: My Quest to Save the Earth's Last Wilderness Hardcover – October 27, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British explorer and conservationist Swan accounts for the inspiration, execution and purpose of his expeditions to visit the South and North Poles. In 1967, at the age of 11, Swan saw the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic, and became obsessed with the doomed expedition of its iconic hero, Captain Robert F. Scott. Naming his 1985 expedition "In the Footsteps of Scott," Swan successfully retraced the captain's 900 mile trek to the South Pole. In a subsequent hike to the North Pole (another 500 mile trip), Swan became the first person to have walked to both poles. He recounts big adventures, and setbacks almost as big (his first ship was crushed by polar ice, leaving him with a $1.2 million debt), on his journey to becoming a committed conservationist, dedicated to curbing climate change and preventing the exploitation of the Arctic and Antarctic (2041 is the year that the international treaty protecting Antarctica comes up for review). Though he describes his Antarctic expedition as a "ridiculous undertaking-a twenty-something nobody raising five million dollars to embark on a useless quest," Swan's valuable lessons and thrilling narrative make it clear his efforts were far from fruitless.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

ROBERT SWAN is the first person to have walked to both the North and South Poles. An active lecturer, he regularly leads Antarctic expeditions. He divides time between London, New York, and Antarctica.
GIL REAVILL has coauthored many books including Tiki by Tiki Barber and Steve and Me by Terri Irwin.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767931750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767931755
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,196,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Just a quick note - The uncorrected proof I am reviewing was very flimsy and pages were falling out left and right through my reading of this book. As this is an Advance Reading Copy and not the for sale copy, this will not affect my review, but just a head's up to readers that the binding of their copy might be just as weak.

I really enjoyed reading this book, as I've always had a sense of wonder when it came to Antartica. Although I was happy to read about Robert Swan's walks across both the Artic and Antartic, I was a bit disappointed that so little of the book was about Antartica itself and the problems that currently plague this (mostly) untouched tundra. Instead the book really focuses on both the explorers that came before Swan which made such an impression on his psyche that he decided to follow in their footsteps and Swan's own trips to the coldest places on Earth. Only about a third of the book actually features Swan's "Quest to Save the Earth's Last Wilderness." Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Swan's recollections of his life and how he could have had a typical British Upper Middle Class life without any real cares, goals or dreams and traded that in for a life of adventure and trying to get people to be passionate about a part of the planet they will most likely never see. However, I wanted a lot more substance on what is going on with Antartica. Instead, these aspects were only barely touched on and most of that space was devoted to stories about raising awareness through boat races or condom useage in Africa. Again, these are well told and fun to read about, but nothing within the title of the book is ever more than glanced over, which is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm always a little scared when reviewing books that have political overtones because it always seems to provoke some sort of visceral reaction from people who are more into pushing their ideology instead of focusing on the book. Sometimes, it's important to read a book and learn from it, even when you don't agree with it.

I'm not sure that I entirely agree with some of Robert Swan's political ideas regarding greenhouse gases and global warming. That being said, that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy reading his book about his treks to Antarctica.

The first half of the book which focused on the challenge of financing and launching a trek to the bottom of the globe was quite fascinating. As an American, I don't have the historical background of the legend and life of English explorer Captain Scott, so I found this part of the book incredibly interesting. I was also captivated of his descriptions of the challenges he faced in raising the money and then of the physical challenges of the actual voyages. The level of detail and interest at the beginning of the book wasn't quite matched by the end and the various conclusions, but it should keep your interest.

Of course, this book is more than just a travelogue and it eventually addresses the issues of greenhouse gases and global warming. I'm not a Neanderthal conservative who denies there's a problem; however I have major misgivings about some of the "solutions" that are often suggested to address the problem. Strangely enough - (and I was relieved),
Swan manages to make his points well without becoming overly preachy and I think he succeeds in raising the issue and encouraging readers to consider the issue.

Overall a solid book in terms of being an autobiography - less so in terms of it addressing major issues. No matter what your position on the topic of global warming, there's something in here to like for just about everyone.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'd like to begin my review by saying my uncorrected proof lacks a table of contents (or an index), which seriously detracts from the book. Despite that omission, Robert Swan's Antarctica 2041 makes for fascinating reading. The author begins with a chilling description of his 1985 expedition to Antarctica before shifting gears in order to explain how he came to be there.

He also explains his title: 2041 being the expiration date of the international treaty protecting Antarctica. More, he says, he came to see 2041 "as a time when, if we don't change our ways now, today, our lives and, more importantly the lives of our children will have been irrevocably harmed."

This is neither a happy nor an optimistic book to read (books about climate change never are). For example, at the very end of the book Swan asks, "What can an individual do? What can you do?" His answer is, "Learn how to swim. If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet continues to degrade, there will be a lot more opportunities for aquatic locomotion." The next to last sentence is perhaps most chilling of all: "In the time it takes you to read this book, around .06 percent of th time between now and January 1, 204 will have elapsed."

The one thing that struck me most about Antarctica 2041 was the sense of urgency, the relentless press of time. Swan presents his argument in evocative, at times almost poetic language. His concern for the environment, his passion for the subject, comes across in every sentence, and it is impossible to not be moved by his warning. I would be very surprised if you walk away from this book without a renewed commitment to do what you can for the environment in your own neck of the woods (and Swan offers practical suggestions outside of learning to swim).
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