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Chris Turney is the author of the popular science books Bones, Rocks and Stars: The Science of When Things Happened; and Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past.
Turney, an Australian paleoclimatologist (Ice, Mud and Blood), describes the early 20th-century exploratory expeditions to Antarctica. Using a variety of sources including previously unpublished documents, Turney reproduces the drama of the race to reach the South Pole as well as the subsequent efforts of the original pathfinders and new expeditions to unlock the secrets of the continent. The two best-known explorers, Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the pole, and Robert Scott the leader of the ill-fated British expedition, are covered in detail, with evidence-based speculation on why and how Scott's expedition ended tragically. In addition, Turney describes in depth the 1911-1912 German expedition of Wilhem Filchner and the 1911-1913 Australian expedition of Douglas Mawson. Filchner's expedition is rife with misadventure, feuds, dangers, and death. Nonetheless the expedition made a substantial contribution to scientific knowledge of the Antarctic Convergence and the Atlantic Ocean's circulation system. Mawson's expedition is another harrowing tale, visited by death, omnipresent in the ruthlessly frigid environment, and by madness as well. Yet Mawson's team managed to map much of Antarctica's geology, and to describe its otherworldly flora and fauna. Turney successfully conveys the heroism and flaws of the early explorers as they challenged the preternatural dangers of Antarctica. Illus., maps. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
'The new David Livingstone.' Saturday Times 'Hundreds of books have been written about this era of Antarctic exploration, but in telling the gripping, lesser known tales, 1912 is an excellent addition.' New Scientist 'Drawing on his own considerable polar experience, historic photographs and journals, [Chris Turney] presents a fascinating story of the men behind the first exploration of Antarctica. A well written and historically important work.' Waikato Times 'What makes this book of particular interest to those familiar with Antarctic exploration literature is the somewhat unusual (and welcome) fact that it was written by a climate scientist. As a historian of the motivation, events and characters of Antarctic exploration, Professor Turney does a workmanlike job. But as a historian of the science behind the aforementioned he is brilliant.' Good Reading 'Turney successfully conveys the heroism and flaws of the early explorers as they challenged the preternatural dangers of Antarctica.' Pubishers Weekly US 'A breathtaking journey into the expeditions, their traumas and dramas, their leaders and achievements...Chris Turney tells a fascinating tale.' Cosmos
Robert Falcon Scott's fatal attempt to beat Roald Amundsen to the South Pole in 1912 is well known, but that's not the whole story. Geologist Turney (climate change, Univ. of New South Wales, Australia; Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past) studies the Japanese, German, and Australian/New Zealand expeditions that also explored Antarctica in 1912, mapping parts of the continent and expanding scientific knowledge of it. Because of a late start and poor provisioning, the Japanese expedition explored King Edward VII Land instead of aiming for the South Pole and determined the eastern limit of the Great Ice Barrier, but the expedition's untranslated scientific findings remained unknown to many. The German expedition determined the southernmost extent of the Weddell Sea and Antarctica's northern limit and discovered a previously unknown ice shelf. Their ship was trapped in ice for eight months, after which the crew mutinied. The Australia/New Zealand expedition sailed into the unknown and established four land bases with sledging parties conducting scientific experiments. They set up a wireless station to communicate between their Antarctic base (a first) and Australia and discovered new Antarctic bays, mountains, and glaciers. VERDICT Every 1912 expedition, including Amundsen's and Scott's, helped define the unknown that was Antarctica. This fascinating and illuminating book is a must for Antarctic and exploration collections and for armchair explorers everywhere.-Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.