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Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica Paperback – March 16, 1999
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In addition to chronicling her own encounters with the people and the place, Wheeler brings the past alive as well, through vivid stories about the heroes of polar exploration: Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, and others who practically become secondary characters in Wheeler's account. But it is her interactions with the living people who make up the community--scientists, drifters, and dreamers who have settled this forbidding landscape--that make Terra Incognita a rare and worthy book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Wheeler is a young British travel writer who spent 7 months in Antarctica in 1995 as a writer-in-residence with the U.S. National Science Foundation. What a great gig!
A lot of research went into the writing of this book. And a lot of love. She mixes all the historical details of the early explorations of Shackleton, Amundson and Scott with her own modern and female perspective of the places she goes, the people she meets and the emotional effect all this has on her as she explores the coldest, windiest and driest continent in the world.
As Antarctic explorations go, hers has a certain degree of comfort. She is helicoptered around to various bases, and even though there are periods of time that she spends in a tent or igloo or prefab shelter, she has radio contact with the base and always has a supply of food. But this, of course, is what it is like to travel to Antarctica these days, and she is fortunate indeed to have the experience of going there. This is not a tourist destination after all. And virtually everybody there is a scientist of some sort.
She describes her experiences well and I loved he sense of humor, especially when describing the differences between the bases manned by different nationalities. The Italians have the best food. The Brits are completely male, bonded in their background of English private schools and given to bawdy toilet humor and practical jokes.Read more ›
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.
The book is part diary of Sara Wheeler as she goes through some sort of change during her visits to Antarctica (three different trips during a seven month period, not one seven month stay as you may be led to believe at first). She's a bit too, hm, spiritual for me, "the landscape talked to me", to the degree that she suddenly decides to stop drinking alcohol, for no apparent particular reason. She describes her feelings well, although I wasn't really interested in reading about them.
The other part (and these two parts are closely intermingled throughout the book) is heaps and heaps of Antarctic history and "folklore". You get to learn all the basic facts about what happened to the pioneers and discoverers of Antarctica (with a VERY British bias, mind you), which definitely should be of basic interest to people who are going to Antarctica themselves.
"Travels in Antarctica" as a second title is not really fitting. She is not traveling. She is a guest of the American and British Antarctic Survey organisations, and is well taken care of by them, both when it comes to supplying her with equipment and with transportation. It is nothing like what traveling in Antarctica is for someone who pay their way through travel agents.
Still; good one, for what it is!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The topic drew me to this book! I love reality-based adventure stories! With a woman as the protagonist---the seeker of adventure--it's the icing(ha-ha) on the cake for... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Dee
What an awful book. I can't believe any publisher would want to even consider publishing it. The writing is horrendous. It's like she wrote it when she was drunk. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Liquessence
Found there to be too much about the group of travelers and not the destination.Published 18 months ago by Sylvia SA
S. Wheeler's book takes the reader to a fantastic world rarely seen by the ordinary visitor. Whoever loves the Antarctic or is curious about the international research stations... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Ginette Vachon
A boring account, was hoping for something more interesting as we were going to antarctica at the time, and this book was recommended to mePublished on April 27, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Going to the Southern tip of S.America and wanted to read about the penquins first; but got history lessons in almost every chapter. Great reading!Published on February 23, 2013 by Carol Sansone
I first read this book after checking out a copy from our local library, and was so impressed with the story that I wanted a copy of my own. Read morePublished on March 20, 2010 by Tom
Sarah's book could have been much better had she left her British haughtiness at home. Her fascination with Chilean political history takes a lot away from her usual travel... Read morePublished on January 12, 2010 by Geno
Sadly this could have been a tremendous book about the wonders of Antarctica and polar research but it became another paid writer just scratching the surface while ranting about... Read morePublished on April 13, 2009 by E Z Morrison