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1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica

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Overview


“The South Pole discovered” trumpeted the front page of The Daily Chronicle on March 8, 1912, marking Roald Amundsen’s triumph over the tragic Robert Scott. Yet behind all the headlines there was a much bigger story. Antarctica was awash with expeditions. In 1912, five separate teams representing the old and new world were diligently embarking on scientific exploration beyond the edge of the known planet. Their discoveries not only enthralled the world, but changed our understanding of the planet forever. Tales ...
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1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica

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Overview


“The South Pole discovered” trumpeted the front page of The Daily Chronicle on March 8, 1912, marking Roald Amundsen’s triumph over the tragic Robert Scott. Yet behind all the headlines there was a much bigger story. Antarctica was awash with expeditions. In 1912, five separate teams representing the old and new world were diligently embarking on scientific exploration beyond the edge of the known planet. Their discoveries not only enthralled the world, but changed our understanding of the planet forever. Tales of endurance, self-sacrifice, and technological innovation laid the foundations for modern scientific exploration, and inspired future generations.

To celebrate the centenary of this groundbreaking work, 1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica revisits the exploits of these different expeditions. Looking beyond the personalities and drawing on his own polar experience, Chris Turney shows how their discoveries marked the dawn of a new age in our understanding of the natural world. He makes use of original and exclusive unpublished archival material and weaves in the latest scientific findings to show how we might reawaken the public’s passion for discovery and exploration.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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 Using a variety of sources including previously unpublished documents, Turney reproduces the drama of the race to reach the South Pole as well as the subsequent efforts of the original pathfinders and new expeditions to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.)
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Praise for 1912

"Turney successfully conveys the heroism and flaws of the early explorers as they challenged the preternatural dangers of Antarctica."—Publishers Weekly

"As the last continent to be discovered and explored, the history of Antarctica is relatively short; the first recorded landfall on the continent wasn't until 1821. [And] while each expedition could easily merit its own book, Turney adroitly manages to give a full portrait of each explorer and crew with giving any short shrift."—Kirkus

Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
An in-depth look at a year in which five different expeditions set out to explore Antarctica. As the last continent to be discovered and explored, the history of Antarctica is relatively short; the first recorded landfall on the continent wasn't until 1821. But in 1912, "at the height of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, the door to Antarctica was flung open." The continent would see no fewer than five different national exploration teams during that year, and geologist Turney (Earth Science/Univ. of New South Wales; Ice, Mud & Blood: Lessons from Climates Past, 2008, etc.) examines each expedition in turn, after outlining some of the earliest attempts at exploring Antarctica, including Ernest Shackleton's 1907-1909 expedition. Englishman Robert Scott and Norwegian Roald Amundsen are perhaps the best known of these explorers: Amundsen reached the South Pole first, in 1911, while Scott's party reached it five weeks later, then found themselves pinned down on their return by a blizzard, which ultimately killed the entire expedition. However, the most interesting parts of this book deal with the three less-famous expeditions, led by Nobu Shirase from Japan, Wilhelm Filchner of Germany and Douglas Mawson of Australia and New Zealand. Shirase's expedition and its findings faded into obscurity because official accounts went untranslated from their original Japanese for years. Filchner's ship spent eight months trapped in the sea ice, and although he returned with many oceanographic insights, his crew nearly mutinied, and Filchner returned to Germany as a failure. Mawson almost died when a lack of food forced him to eat his own sled dogs, leading to acute vitamin A poisoning from eating the dogs' livers. While each expedition could easily merit its own book, Turney adroitly manages to give a full portrait of each explorer and crew without giving any short shrift.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582437897
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 992,568
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Chris Turney is an Australian and British geologist living in Sydney. He led the radiocarbon dating on the Hobbit fossil of Flores, Indonesia that hit the headlines worldwide in 2004, and has published numerous scientific articles. In 2011, he was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship. Turney has been described by The Saturday Times as “the new David Livingstone.”
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Looking Polewards: Early Ventures South 7

Chapter 2 An Audacious Plan: Ernest Shackleton and the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909 35

Chapter 3 A New Land: Robert Scott and the Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-1913 71

Chapter 4 Of Reindeer, Ponies, and Automobiles: Ronald Amundsen and the Norwegian Bid for the South Pole, 1910-1912 105

Chapter 5 The Dash Patrol: Nobu Shirase and the Japanese South Polar Expedition, 1910-1912 143

Chapter 6 Locked In: Wilhelm Filchner and the Second German Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1912 177

Chapter 7 Ice-cold in Denison: Douglas Mawson and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1913 213

Chapter 8 Martyrs to Gondwanaland: The Cost of Scientific Exploration 259

Postscript 295

Appendix Lord Curzon's Notes 303

Acknowledgements 309

Sources 313

Index 345

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Great book

    I came to this book with an interest in learning the history of Anartic exploration, and Turney does so much more than that. Turney goes into the five countries and explorers ( i had only known of Amundsen and Scott) and really brings to light the epic scientific discoveries, particularly of the Australians led by Mawson. The author does a great job giving you a background to the expeditions of 1912-13, and details the scienctific thought of the day. Great read and extremely informative.

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