Mountains of Madness: A Scientist's Odyssey in Antarctica

Overview

This extraordinary book is the first-person account of John Long's two unforgettable "summers" on the southern continent. Told in a highly accessible and entertaining style, Mountains of Madness is the account of his three-month long fossil hunt. As the story unfolds, we learn of both the highs of scientific discovery as well as the grueling yet essential routines that must be practiced every day just to stay alive in one of the harshest environments on our planet. Alternating with the author's wonder at the ...
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Overview

This extraordinary book is the first-person account of John Long's two unforgettable "summers" on the southern continent. Told in a highly accessible and entertaining style, Mountains of Madness is the account of his three-month long fossil hunt. As the story unfolds, we learn of both the highs of scientific discovery as well as the grueling yet essential routines that must be practiced every day just to stay alive in one of the harshest environments on our planet. Alternating with the author's wonder at the intense beauty of his surroundings are his immense frustration and boredom that stem from being completely at the mercy of the elements.

Throughout the course of the expedition, danger is never far off in this inhospitable land. Despite having been trained in the art of building snow caves and practiced in the skill of traversing glaciers, Long tells of two brushes with death in just one afternoon. The hair-raising escape from a deep crevasse is fraught with tension-only to be followed by yet another encounter with sudden disaster when the crash of an avalanche buries Long deep in the snow.

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Editorial Reviews

Palaios
...very readable memoir. ...'Mountains of Madness' effectively conveys the author's sense of awe toward Antarctica. I recommend this book to anyone with curiosity about the southern continent..
New Scientist
Long's account of fieldwork ... is full of authentic details that any expedition veteran will recognize. ... There's no doubt that Antarctica's geology is of prime scientific importance and Long does know his Antarctic history. ... As the central figure, Long comes over as a dogged, cheerful character in whose company you might be happy to spend a field season.
Washington Post Book World
Long is at his best when describing the fossil finds.
Publisher's Weekly
In a down-to-earth and often funny manner, Long conveys a sense of the daily routine of scientists living at the bottom of the world. The book maintains a tone of immediacy and an infectious spirit of discovery, effectively articulating the awe experienced by a first-time visitor confronting Antarctica's danger and beauty ... an informative, well-written and deliberate account of contemporary paleontological research.
Rain Taxi Review of Books
...an eminently readable account of paleontologist John Long's two Antarctic sojourns... Long enlivens his account with quiry, identifiably Australian humor. ... Long's curiosity about everything makes him an astute observer of Antarctic travel; his winning nature makes him an ideal tour guide. In addition to a travelogue, though, Mountains of Madness is also an account of Long's fascinating paleontological work.
Ice Cap News
Long's gripping story, told in the first person, brings the excitement and dangers of Antarctica to life.
Discover.com
...a fascinating account of his two expeditions to Antarctica's remote Cook Mountains, a virtually untouched fossil hunter's paradise.
Palaeontologia Electronica
...a very personal book. ... The book will make an interesting read for scientists who have worked in Antarctica and for the general public who are interested in polar exploration.
British Bulletin of Publications
"...straightforward, eminently readable, and variously humorous, dramatic, and emotional. ... As travel books go, this is an unusual and enjoyable pleasure."
April 2002
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Antarctica, once the center of the prehistoric supercontinent Gondwana, contains some of the richest and best-preserved fossil deposits in the world. Long, a paleontologist, recounts his two expeditions (in 1988 and 1992) to Antarctica to recover some of these fossils. He relates details ranging from the thrilling to the mundane, describing plane rides to Antarctica, life at the base camp and his actual fieldwork. In a down-to-earth and often funny manner, he conveys a sense of the daily routine of a scientist living at the bottom of the world. At times the lay reader might get bogged down by some of Long's technical lexicon, but for the most part the author successfully intersperses accessible passages about the crew's more banal activitiesDcooking (including some recipes for Antarctic delicacies), celebrating Christmas, and playing in the snowDwith the passages concerning his work. Because these trips constitute Long's introduction to the continent, the book maintains a tone of immediacy and an infectious spirit of discovery, effectively articulating the awe experienced by first-time visitors upon confronting Antarctica's danger and beauty. Long supplements his own words with quotations from a variety of texts ranging from the diaries of famous Antarctic explorers to H.P. Lovecraft's fictional horror tale At the Mountain of Madness, from which this book takes its title. Although the narrative may not have enough action to satisfy hardcore exploration and adventure readers, it provides an informative, well-written and deliberate account of contemporary paleontological research, and presents some interesting theories on how Antarctica's resources could help solve certain environmental crises. Long's book should appeal to lay and professional readers interested in current scientific and ecological study. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
This first-person account of a modern research adventure in the Transantarctic Mountains of Antarctica describes the excitement of scientific discovery, close escapes in extreme conditions, and the effect of this dangerous but beautiful landscape on the author's views on the meaning of life. Long is curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Western Australia Museum. He has written books on fish fossils, dinosaurs, and evolution. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780309070775
  • Publisher: National Academies Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.94 (d)

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