From Scott and Shackleton to sled dogs and penguins, stories of Antarctica seize our imagination. In December 2002, environmental historian Tom Griffiths set sail with the Australian Antarctic Division to deliver the new team of winterers. In this beautifully written book, Griffiths reflects on the history of human experiences in Antarctica, taking the reader on a journey of discovery, exploration, and adventure in an unforgettable land.
He weaves together meditations on shipboard life during his three-week voyage with fascinating forays into the history and nature of Antarctica. He brings alive the great age of sail in the initiation of travelers to the great winds of the “roaring forties.” No continent is more ruled by wind, and Griffiths explains why Antarctica is a barometer of global climatic health. He charts the race to the South Pole, from its inception as part of the drive to map Earth’s magnetism, to the reasons for Robert Scott’s tragic death. He also offers vivid descriptions of life in Antarctica, such as the experience of a polar night, the importance of food for morale, and coping with solitude.
A charming narrative and an informative history, Slicing the Silence is an intimate portrait of the last true wilderness.
Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica is a many-layered, sophisticated narrative, not only of the Antarctic, but our relationship with it.
In 2002 Griffiths, an environmental historian, accompanied a team of researchers to Antarctica. He writes about the romance of ocean exploration, the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, but also about how high winds make that continent an indicator of global climate health.
This is an extraordinary book, as notable as that of Griffiths’s antipodal fellow traveler Barry Lopez (whose 1986 best seller, Arctic Dreams, won a National Book Award). Griffiths turns otherwise humdrum shipboard jottings into starting points for inspired ruminations on the meaning of the Antarctic experience. Although he has never ventured into the interior, he seems to have read virtually everything published on the discovery, exploration, and exploitation of the southern continent, along with a host of unpublished diaries and station logs. Best of all, he relates what he has learned in prose that is both thoughtful and luminous… Few of us will ever visit Antarctica, even though cruise ships now bring several tens of thousands of high-rolling tourists to its coasts each year. Readers, I am sure, will come away from this book agreed that fewer is better, because Griffiths makes it clear just how special this land is, and, for all its ruggedness, how fragile. Better to leave Antarctic travels to a select few scientists, adventurers, and support staff. And, from time to time—for those of us who stay at home—eloquent writers like Tom Griffiths.
Griffiths is an Australian environmental historian who weaves the story of his visit [to Antarctica] supplying a scientific research station with a good deal of history and science. He writes with insight about the past and probable future as seen from the front lines of the global-warming crisis.
As the climate changes and polar ice caps shrink dramatically, author and environmental historian Griffiths provides essential background for understanding how we reached the current state of meltdown… Engrossing and highly satisfying… A fine and informative ecological adventure, Griffiths’ history is worth reading and re-reading.
- 408 pages
- 5-5/8 x 8-15/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
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