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End of the Earth: Voyages To Antarctica Hardcover – September 1, 2003


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How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; First Edition edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792250591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792250593
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,867,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Attempts by humans to surmount nature at its most expansive and inhospitable is an almost guaranteed home-run story arc. But Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard, etc.) uses a clinical, detached voice to narrate his epic treks to Antarctica, making what should be a gripping page-turner a bland yawn. It's not his fault that a wicked storm limited his journey to the White South, disrupting the natural apex of the trip's trajectory. But Matthiessen would have been more effective in conveying the magnitude of his experiences if he had used words-not latitude and longitude coordinates-to narrate the action. He vaguely compensates for his stoicism by liberally citing and quoting from his Antarctic forebears, especially Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen. This historical context is appreciated, particularly after slogging through languorous descriptions of animals, objects and elements that lack personification (a necessary tool when making "nature" the subject, protagonist and plot line of a book). Statements like, "Birds call us into the moment," made by an associate of Matthiessen's (but equally indicative of Matthiessen's philosophy) are not evocative hallmarks of the Antarctic quest, one of the most complex, majestic and challenging journeys that exist. Although he succeeds in prioritizing nature over narrative arc, it remains frustrating that such an accomplished author would not, in his 27th book, find a way to liven up antiseptic observations of albatrosses and hurricanes with an expansive, emotive voice befitting the scope of his travels. 8-page color photo insert not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The grand master of the purposeful and philosophical nature-oriented travelogue, Matthiessen chronicles the attainment of a lifelong dream in his eighteenth work of nonfiction: two voyages to Antarctica. The first time out, Matthiessen and company explore the coast of South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula, where he is enthralled by the grace and fortitude of albatrosses and petrels, stalwart chin-strap penguins, and stoic seals. Contemplation of these amazing creatures leads to ruminations over our species' crimes against them, just as his poetic marveling over the majestic beauty of icebergs and their enshrinement of "bubbles of pure ancient air" and "the last uncontaminated water on the planet's surface" leads to strongly stated objections to the U.S. government's failure to combat global warming. On his second voyage, this time aboard a polar icebreaker, Matthiessen visits emperor penguin breeding colonies, a phenomenon few ornithologists have witnessed, and describes with arresting lyricism the spiritual cleansing one experiences in this pristine, wind-scoured kingdom of ice. Vivid and empathic accounts of the high drama and petty rivalries of Antarctic exploration alternate with Matthiessen's own adventures as he shares his indelible impressions of this cold, white wonderland in the hope that they will inspire readers to appreciate the beauty and bounty of the earth's "shimmering web of biodiversity" enough to defend and preserve it. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LLL on December 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've always enjoyed Peter's books, especially the Snow Leopard. I've travelled to many spots all over the world (unfortunately, not to Antarctica yet - although my husband is a pilot on "the Ice"). His prose is a little drier and more austere, but then again, from what I hear from my husband and various travelers to Antarctica (including Shackleton and Scott), that is what Antarctica is like. I do enjoy Peter's environmentalist views, and I don't think there is any irony in the fact he wishes people wouldn't travel to the Ice - at least, not in large, damaging numbers. I think we need people like him to describe these things for us and WHY it is so important to protect these fragile environments. I have heard about many stories of many people - wealthy and otherwise - coming to the South Pole Station and other spots around the continent, stealing the geographic South Pole markers, leaving their trash behind, disrespecting the National Science Foundation rules and the Antarctic Treaty stipulations. There are all kinds of people in the world, and no one can stop them from making jerks of themselves - but we can read this book, be educated, and have a little healthier respect for such places, and in turn educate other people.

This is an interesting travel book, and a good addition to anyone's collection who is interested in travel to far-flung places and especially to anyone who is interested in the south polar regions.

As for Anne Olsen's comments - while I normally do not comment on other people's reviews (and I've done so twice! Yikes!) , I have to say, she is the one completely, totally, absolutely and embarrassingly in the wrong. Mattthiessen describes the first sentence that he "fetched up in Punta Arenas, Chile....
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By N. Hade on January 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading Shackleton's "South" I thought I knew a lot about Antarctica, but this book revealed how much I didn't know - the forces at work behind the obstacles Shackleton and other adventurers faced in the quest for the pole, and a greater understanding of the wildlife they encountered. I learned that we cannot understand how the Earth works without understanding how the Antarctic region works - and Matthiessen explains its global reach. The touring format is a wonderful way to learn about the history and science of this region and Matthiessen is a wonderful guide (his poetic prose is Melville-esque). This is my first book by Matthiessen, and I will be sure to read many more.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shane Arnold on May 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading End of the Earth, by Peter Matthiessen I felt a lot more informed about the continent that you exist, but never really is talked about. Other then that it's a continent made up of water that's been frozen for thousands of years, you really don't know much about. He took a place on earth where most wouldn't dare to venture to once, let alone twice and wrote about it. He gave light to a place where it might have seemed dismal and dreary and gave it life. He makes the reader want to keep learning more about this mysterious place even after the book is all finished and done with. He is very detail in his description and makes sure you understand what's going on, and the feeling he felt while there. From beginning to end, you keep asking yourself why would Matthiessen choose to go on not one, but two different and separate voyages to Antarctica, one of the coldest and dismal places in the world. I would have never thought a book about Antarctica could be so detailed and so interesting. If you like learning about new things, and love nature, this is a good book for you!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Muller on February 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Peter Matthiessen is most honestly characterized as a "writer's writer" in that his works most favorably impress literary critics more than they garner mass reader appeal. This effort is a mediocre travel memoir of two different voyages to Antarctica and for each trip the author fills the pages with interesting historical, geographical and natural facts. Unfortunatly this book has no "heart and soul". "End of the Earth" merely 'reports' two stories on Antarctica as if Peter Matthiessen could take it or leave it. The usual book jacket accolades recite "...he blends a vision of harsh beauty, a traveler's love of adventure, and a profound appreciation for the splendors and extraordinary wildlife of a forbidding yet fragile world of ice". If only that were true this could have been a great book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought the book to give to friends after reading it and being so very positively impressed with it. Mattheissen is a gifted observer and writer
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End of the Earth: Voyages To  Antarctica
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