Antarctica: A Biography

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2013 - History - 614 pages
1 Review
Since the first sailing ships spied the Antarctic coastline in 1820, the frozen continent has captured the world's imagination. David Day's brilliant biography of Antarctica describes in fascinating detail every aspect of this vast land's history--two centuries of exploration, scientific investigation, and contentious geopolitics.

Drawing from archives from around the world, Day provides a sweeping, large-scale history of Antarctica. Focusing on the dynamic personalities drawn to this unconquered land, the book offers an engaging collective biography of explorers and scientists battling the elements in the most hostile place on earth. We see intrepid sea captains picking their way past icebergs and pushing to the edge of the shifting pack ice, sanguinary sealers and whalers drawn south to exploit "the Penguin El Dorado," famed nineteenth-century explorers like Scott and Amundson in their highly publicized race to the South Pole, and aviators like Clarence Ellsworth and Richard Byrd, flying over great stretches of undiscovered land. Yet Antarctica is also the story of nations seeking to incorporate the Antarctic into their national narratives and to claim its frozen wastes as their own. As Day shows, in a place as remote as Antarctica, claiming land was not just about seeing a place for the first time, or raising a flag over it; it was about mapping and naming and, more generally, knowing its geographic and natural features. And ultimately, after a little-known decision by FDR to colonize Antarctica, claiming territory meant establishing full-time bases on the White Continent.

The end of the Second World War would see one last scramble for polar territory, but the onset of the International Geophysical Year in 1957 would launch a cooperative effort to establish scientific bases across the continent. And with the Antarctic Treaty, science was in the ascendant, and cooperation rather than competition was the new watchword on the ice. Tracing history from the first sighting of land up to the present day, Antarctica is a fascinating exploration of this deeply alluring land and man's struggle to claim it.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

Antarctica: A Biography

User Review  - Margaret Atwater-Singer - Book Verdict

When was the last time you read a biography of a continent? Day (research associate, La Trobe Univ.; Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others) gives readers the opportunity with his dense and thorough ... Read full review

Contents

Chapter 1 1770s
1
Chapter 2 17801820
17
Chapter 3 18211838
38
Chapter 4 18391843
61
Chapter 5 18431895
83
Chapter 6 18951906
98
Chapter 7 19071912
125
Chapter 8 19121918
151
Chapter 14 19371938
310
Chapter 15 19391941
331
Chapter 16 19411945
357
Chapter 17 19451947
381
Chapter 18 19481951
408
Chapter 19 19521956
434
Chapter 20 19571960
464
Chapter 21 19612012
492

Chapter 9 19191926
179
Chapter 10 19261928
203
Chapter 11 19291930
227
Chapter 12 19311933
253
Chapter 13 19341936
279
Epilogue
521
Endnotes
524
Select Bibliography
587
Index
594
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2013)


David Day has been a research fellow at Clare College in Cambridge and a Visiting Professor at University College Dublin, the University of Aberdeen, and the Center for Pacific and American Studies at the University of Tokyo. He is currently a research associate at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He is the author of many books, including Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others and the award-winning Claiming a Continent: A History of Australia.

Bibliographic information